Two climate activists from the French group Riposte Alimentaire”(Food Response) threw red soup at Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. This act of protest is to show the need for sustainable food and environmental action.
The incident, caught on video, has sparked discussions about the intersection of art, activism, and the global climate movement.
The video footage shows two women, donned in T-shirts with the words “FOOD RIPOSTE,” crossing security barriers to approach the bulletproof glass protecting the 16th-century painting.
As they hurled soup, they have a thought-provoking question to onlookers: “What is more important? Art or the right to have a healthy and sustainable food system?” The activists addressed that their farming system is sick, and farmers are struggling at work.
Riposte Alimentaire, an advocating for climate change action and sustainable agriculture, issued a statement explaining their protest.
The group accuses the French government of breaking climate commitments and calls for the establishment of a social security system for sustainable food.
They demand better access to healthy food for the public while ensuring farmers receive a decent income.
The Mona Lisa remained unharmed, thanks to the protective glass installed since 2005. The Louvre, in an emailed statement, made sure that no damage was done to the painting.
The Salle des Etats, where the Mona Lisa is displayed, was temporarily evacuated for 90 minutes for cleaning.
The museum has stated its intention to lodge a complaint, though it remains unclear whether it will be directed at law enforcement or the activist group.
This isn’t the first time the Mona Lisa has been targeted. In 2022, an activist smeared cake on the painting, shouting about the need to think of the Earth.
Such incidents are part of a global trend where environmental activists use famous artworks as a canvas for their protests.
In London, the National Gallery saw soup thrown at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers by Just Stop Oil activists in 2022.
The soup-throwing incident comes when protests by French farmers, who have been using tractors to set up road blockades and slow traffic across the country.
Their grievances include low wages, rising costs, and regulatory challenges. The farmers have demanded better remuneration, less red tape, and protection against cheap imports. Some farmers are even threatening to converge on Paris to block main roads, starting Monday.
The French government announced a series of measures on Friday, which farmers argue do not fully address their demands.
The measures include simplifying certain technical procedures and a gradual end to diesel fuel taxes for farm vehicles.
Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, during a farm visit, acknowledged the challenges by farmers and promised additional decisions in the coming weeks to address their concerns.
Riposte Alimentaire is part of the A22 umbrella movement, joining forces with groups like Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion.