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  • Writer's pictureMaria Flori

Mona Lisa Slurps Soup in Splashing Activism and the Reason Behind It

Updated: Feb 2

Two female activists from the environmental movement Riposte Alimentaire sprayed pumpkin soup on the armored glass protecting the Mona Lisa, this Sunday, around 10 a.m., calling for the right to healthy and sustainable food.

Activists Protesting © Riposte Alimentaire

Riposte Alimentaire is a key player in an international environmental network, the A22 movement. Their initiative challenges the current food distribution system, striving for a more environmentally friendly and fair approach. "What is more important? Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food? Your agricultural system is sick,” shout protesters, as seen in the footage provided by below. Louvre Museum's security responded immediately to the incident by putting black screens in front of them and evacuating the Hall of States, where the priceless painting is exhibited, for necessary cleaning. The public was allowed back into the hall by 11:30 a.m. 

Throwing soup at Mona Lisa © Riposte Alimentaire

“The museum will file a complaint,” Coralie James, spokesperson of the Louvre, says. She also confirmed that the famous 'Jokonda' suffered no damage whatsoever.

“We like art, that’s why we did it [...]. On a future planet, art will not be possible anymore, because of climate change,” says Till van Elst, activist from Riposte Alimentaire. Their vision is to anticipate a future where art will be a priority, but the current environmental circumstances foresee otherwise. Riposte Alimentaire says their goal is to encourage people, who may not understand the urgency of climate change, to take action and control of the food they are consuming. “The system won't change by itself; we have to act to change it," van Elst says. The group aims to integrate food into the social security system by proposing a €150 monthly food card that allows everyone access to locally sourced, environmentally-friendly products.

Interviewing Till Van Elst © Afonso Ivens-Ferraz

“We targeted the Mona Lisa because it's famous and would grab attention,” says Van Elst, suggesting that their act is a means of creating a space of discussion for climate change.

According to Dr Quirijn van den Hoogen, art sociologist at the University of Groningen, the group’s act effectively captures public's attention without resorting to any destruction. "The symbolism is clear, they selected this work of art just because it is well protected and highly respected."

Interviewing Dr Quirijn van den Hoogen © Maria Flori

He also mentions that they are not just trying to raise the public awareness of an imminent environmental disaster, but they want to target people in the higher society, who tend to have more power and a seat at the decision-making table. “So as a sociologist, I would be inclined to say this is a call to the elite to take the role”, he says.

Soup was not random

“They deliberately chose soup,” adds Dr van den Hoogen. The activist’s choice of throwing soup reflects a deliberate strategy to tie their act with nutrition rather than causing any irreversible damage.

“This approach shows the peaceful nature of their actions, throwing soup at the protected art is seen as less severe than other acts of iconoclasm,” he says. In the realm of art, the act of throwing paint at a painting is considered destruction, involving direct interference with the material.

However, Extinction Rebellion - another organization, part of the A22 movement - distance themselves from this action. Even though they grasp the intentions behind it and the fact that they did not mean to destroy anything, they state that they don't engage specifically in this kind of action. “The Mona Lisa is a remarkable and dear artwork, so is the earth,” Berthe van Soest, spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion, says.

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