Climate activists soak Israeli artist’s work in ‘oil’ at German parliament
Dani Karavan’s ‘Grundgesetz 49’ displays constitution’s articles on glass plates; Last Generation group says it targeted piece because use of oil is incompatible with rights
BERLIN, Germany — Climate activists on Saturday splashed a dark liquid over an artwork near the German parliament building engraved with key articles from the country’s constitution, drawing condemnation from the speaker of parliament and other lawmakers.
The Last Generation group said supporters symbolically “soaked in ‘oil'” the outdoor installation — a series of glass plates on which 19 articles from the German Constitution setting out fundamental rights are engraved. They pasted posters over the work that read, “Oil or fundamental rights?”
The group said in a statement that “the German government is not protecting our fundamental rights” and argued that continuing to burn oil is incompatible with doing so.
Parliament Speaker Bärbel Bas said she was appalled by the action and has “no understanding for it.” She said the work by Israeli artist Dani Karavan, titled “Grundgesetz 49” after the German name of the post-World War II constitution and the year when it was drawn up, is a reminder to respect and protect rights such as freedom of expression and assembly.
“Those are the fundamental rights on which the demonstrators from Last Generation themselves base the justification for their actions,” Bas said in a statement. “I can only hope that the glass plates of the artwork were not permanently damaged.”
The work was wiped clean by Saturday afternoon. Last Generation has repeatedly drawn attention and anger over the past year with actions that have included blocking major roads and throwing food at famous paintings.
Karavan, who died in 2021, created several well-known works in Israel, including the huge wall carving decorating the plenum of the Knesset, named “Jerusalem, City of Peace”; Habima Square in Tel Aviv; “Ohel” at Sheba Medical Center, “Kikar Levana” in Tel Aviv’s Edith Wolfson Park; the Monument to the Negev Brigade near Beersheba; and the “Way of Peace” near Israel’s border with Egypt.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.