“Triumph of Consumerism” (2022)—digital collage by AleXander Hirka, with Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1562)

Triumph of Consumerism

Harshing The Holiday Mellow (A Whimsical Environmental Diatribe)

aleXander hirka
12 min readNov 24, 2022

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In the panoramic pandemonium of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting —“The Triumph of Death” (1562)—the earth is on fire, a scorched landscape. Armies of skeletons are laying waste to everything and everyone.
A few leafless trees, no other vegetation. Ships sink into the ocean.
In the right bottom corner, as if hoping that their love might save them, a troubadour plays the lute for his lady—the loving couple oblivious to the skeleton who has already joined them in accompaniment.

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end.

Most of you who follow the news have probably heard the shocking story surrounding what happened to this Bruegel painting a few weeks ago.

An action by climate activists was being executed at the Museo del Prado in Madrid—wherein the protestors stuck handfuls of wet mush onto the glass covering the famous Hieronymus Bosch painting, “The Garden of Earthly Delights”.
[The literature handed out by the dissidents explains that the paste was symbolically made of sour cream and onion cricket snacks.]

In response to this chaotic moment, a museum security guard charged at the protestors with a fire extinguisher. Intending to douse them, he slipped and sprayed some foam onto a portion of the famous “The Triumph of Death” painting by Breugel the Elder. Agitated by his faux pas, he pulled off his jacket and wiped the painting.

And thus was revealed a section of painting that had existed— presumably for the past four and a half centuries—beneath the original work. In the days following the media came to refer to this exposed visual cacophony as the “Black Friday Death Patch”
A cultural tsunami of emotion has been raging through the art world ever since—much driven by the histrionics of historians.
Fake news began spreading the idea that the whole incident was made up by some fiction writer.

“Black Friday Death Patch” — photo by AleXander Hirka

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aleXander hirka

Writer, visual artist, philosopher, autodidact, curmudgeon. More than half of what i do is make believe. https://alexanderhirka.nyc