If yesterday some activists threw black liquid in Vienna against a Klimt protected by glass, Alba and Sam, militants of the organization Futuro Vegetal, stuck to the frames of Goya del Prado’s pestles 11 days ago after painting a complaint between them: “1.5 degrees”. Alba is from Madrid, a 21-year-old Biology student, and Sam from Cantabria, 18 years old and a student of photography in the Basque Country. She traveled to Madrid for an action that has caused controversy due to the possibility that the masterpieces could have been damaged. Both have spoken with La Vanguardia about the objectives of their actions and why they have chosen art to make them known.

What does Futuro Vegetal ask for, what do they want to change?

Alba: What he wants is to radically change the industrial agri-food system, the main driver of deforestation in the world and one of the main responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases. We believe that the current political and economic system must be transformed for a viable future.

Sam: We are looking for the Government to stop giving hundreds of millions of euros to five business groups that are dedicated to destroying all the territory in which in the near future we will need to grow our food, and that we will not be able to because that soil is not going to be arable.

What has led you to this organization?

Sam: I saw the Extinction Rebellion protests, I saw that they used direct action and civil disobedience and it seemed like a good way to act against climate change, in which I felt the emergency was growing.

Alba: I joined Fridays for Future a year ago and we got along quite well with Extinction Rebellion and I started participating because non-violent direct action appealed to me a lot. It is the step we need to see that the demonstrations and dialogue are fine but at certain times they are not enough because the Government does not listen to us.

Why attack works of art to vindicate those objectives?

Sam: The art has not been attacked at any time, they have been performative actions together with the art. Although tomato or mashed potatoes have been thrown, no work has been damaged. We decided not to throw anything into the pestles because they did not have crystals and we wanted to protect that heritage. But we are going to lose art if we lose the planet. We chose Goya for the Caprichos, which represent the negative part of society that the painter saw.

Alba: At no time has there been any attempt to attack art. But we have claimed the same injustices in the oil companies and blocking streets and it has not appeared so much in the media. We want our message to reach the maximum possible.

Many people see these actions as counterproductive.

Sam: We don’t think they are because 80% of society is not only aware of the climate crisis but is aware that it is an emergency and action should be taken. But we are not looking for people to unite, but rather for institutions to act, to see that discomfort in society that is how democracy works, as we have seen throughout history: all movements are annoying when they protest.

Alba: Once the population is aware that the climate crisis affects us all, we want to point out those who are truly responsible for this problem: the Government that does not stop subsidizing these industries and is going to lead us to climate chaos if it continues with the same measurements. We put the message of 1.5 degrees because it is already known that it is inevitable that the Earth will rise 1.5 degrees or more if these measures are followed.

How did you plan the action of the ‘majas’?

Sam: As there are two paintings, we could stick one to each one and put that message in the middle, which refers to the United Nations report that describes the Paris protocol as impossible to comply with because if all the measures are complied with at the end of the century we will reach 2 .9 degrees of temperature rise, which brings us to a scenario that we can’t grow our food. And that fulfilling their promises, which they are not going to fulfill.

Alba: Since we didn’t want the paintings to stain, we used school tempera instead of spray that could have splashed on them.

Weren’t they afraid of the consequences?

Sam: I am more afraid of not having a future because of not having food or the flames of a fire or being left without a house because the sea level rises than spending two nights in the cell.

Alba: I think we are doing good because we are fighting for our future and that of the following generations. We can tell them that we have done everything in our power to warn of climate chaos even though the television says that it is okay for the temperatures to be high because there are more people on the beach.

How have they lived the dungeon? And the reactions of public opinion, partly very negative?

Sam: The dungeon is not a nice place, it’s cold, it’s dark, you don’t want to be. It is unfair because we are people defending the future in a legal protest. In public opinion there have been a lot of negative comments but I have received it in a positive way. That ‘I don’t support how they did it, but the message’ is worth it to me.

Alba: I expected to be detained but not for that long because the Prado made a statement at two minutes past five that the room was open and the action was carried out at eight minutes past one. I thought it was a strong repression, and even worse that they arrested the journalist and the photographer who were doing their job. Very harsh measures for a simple peaceful protest. And at the Moratalaz police station they were telling us that climate change does not exist or the years that we were going to end up in prison and other unpleasant comments. But then there are people who have told me that, unlike other actions, they have understood it and it has made them reflect.

What are they up against now?

Sam: The penalty can be from six to 24 months in prison, a fine… We are pending trial.

Alba: We only hope that justice is fair, it is only a peaceful protest that warns of the unviable future that lies ahead if we continue to take these measures.

Many museum directors fear that these actions by people without expert knowledge could end up causing an accident.

Sam: They have in mind an assumption that has not happened and they do it to delegitimize our protest despite the fact that we have actively and passively said that we knew if they had glass or not and that our intention is not to harm.

Alba: At no time has the frame been damaged and we study carefully how to get away from any possible risk with the right materials. We appreciate art.

Are the actions in museums going to continue in Spain?

Sam: Actions by paintings and museums I can’t guarantee but I doubt that they will continue to exist on our part, but civil disobedience will continue to exist as long as we don’t have a guaranteed future.

Do you feel right now that you have no future?

Sam: It’s more about what I feel than what the scientific data tells me. We are going for 1.2 degrees of increase, in 1.5 there will be serious consequences. Spain is already in the process of desertification. It will lead to social, political, economic crises, wars due to famines. Plus the energy crisis that we are already experiencing and will continue to increase.