Chaos erupted in Milan’s Fabbrica del Vapore art centre on Friday when a group of environmental activists threw eight kilograms of flour over Andy Warhol‘s BMW M1 Art Car in yet another display of climate change protest.
The Italian news agency Ansa reported that the group of rowdy protesters also glued themselves to the car, while others smashed paint-filled balloons on the floor.
The protesters belong to Ultima Generazione (Last Generation), a self-proclaimed “Italian civil disobedience campaign.” On its website, the group calls for the Italian government to halt the reopening of disused coal plants, cancel new natural gas extraction projects and prioritize renewable energy.
This was the third time this month that activists from the group Ultima Generazione have targeted art exhibitions.
On Nov. 4, protesters hurled pea soup over a Vincent van Gogh work in Rome. On Nov. 15, they threw a black liquid on a Gustav Klimt painting in Vienna. Both masterpieces were protected by glass screens and were unharmed.
Friday’s protesters shouted to spectators in the gallery as they emptied the bags of flour over the car.
The Fabbrica del Vapore art centre has not yet disclosed whether any damage occurred to the painted vehicle, but it was certainly covered almost entirely in flour.
Others in the room attempted to restrain the activists, though it remains unclear if they are Ultima Generazione members, art centre guests or security employed by Fabbrica del Vapore. They dragged several protesters across the flour-covered floor as they continued to shout.
“There’s an ecological and climate collapse and no one is talking about it,” one protester said in Italian. “We have to take care of this!”
The protester continued to shout about “joint war,” “migration” and famine and drought as a result of climate change.
On Twitter, Ultima Generazione shared video of the incident.
“If the media told the truth, the entire population would demand urgent change,” the group wrote in Italian. “Unfortunately this does not happen, the problem is still marginalized or even denied: we feel obliged to do so!
“It is absurd to be scandalized by this, remaining indifferent to the fact that thousands of people are already dying from the climate crisis, and the government does nothing.”
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, also shared video of the incident on Twitter. In Italian, Salvini called the protesters “jerks who are infesting European museums vandalizing artwork, defacing, harassing and making a mess.”
Warhol painted the BMW in 1979, the same year the car featured in a 24-hour race at Le Mans in France, before being taken off the road and placed in a museum.
Ultima Generazione’s high-profile stunts have coincided with climate talks in Egypt. The COP27 climate change conference is scheduled to finish on Friday, but it is expected to run into overtime as delegates from nearly 200 countries struggle to agree on a way forward.
— With files from Reuters