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Is this enormous pile of carrots 2020's most controversial artwork?

Carrots
(Image credit: PA)

London is abuzz with bizarre reports of a massive pile of carrots dumped on the street outside Goldsmiths University of London, Lewisham. And when we say massive, we mean around 30 tons – more of a mountain than a pile. We bet you'll see those in the dark. 

The peculiar act was performed as part of a student's Master of Fine Arts degree show, with the carrots making up an art installation called 'Grounding'. Meant to highlight food wastage in the UK, it's ended up causing a fair amount of controversy, and even a protest Instagram account – we certainly haven't seen a piece attract this sort of attention so far this year, even amidst the strangeness of 2020. 

For less extreme examples of outside design, see our street art roundup, and you can check out the installation in the following video. Make sure you hang on for the cool visual effect when the carrots explode from the truck at the end. 

Spanish-Welsh artist Rafael Perez Evans, who is behind the installation, explains that the art explores "the tensions in visibility between the rural and the city", drawing attention to the amount of food supermarkets deem unfit for sale due to wonky characteristics and imperfections. You can read more about it on his website.

Though Evans says the carrots came from supermarket surplus, and that they'll be fed to animals after the project has finished, the installation has caused an outbreak of anger amongst fellow students, who are concerned about the wastage.

Some of those students set up the Goldsmiths Carrots account on Instagram, which is seething with outrage. Posts call the act wasteful, and a "slap in the face" to those living in poverty in Lewisham. The account also claims that there's no proof the carrots were ever surplus, or that the carrots will go on to provide food for animals. See the post below.

In a pinned story, the team behind the Goldsmiths Carrots account says they are taking the carrots and using them to make and sell cakes, soups and other foodstuffs – then donating the money to the food bank network Trussell Trust.

It's not only students of the university stating their opposition to the project, with tweets rallying others to help to utilise the dumped food.

Others see the funny side. 

And, as is usually the case with modern art, others are questioning whether it is 'art' at all.

Who knew carrots could be so controversial? 

While the ongoing food wastage at supermarkets is a real issue in this country (wonky vegetables for the win), the question remains of whether this a meaningful way of highlighting the issue, when it is simply more of the same type of wastage. 

Despite the criticism, the artist is probably delighted with the interactive nature of people's response to the installation, with the collection and use of the carrots becoming part of the message itself. As an aside, we'd love to see Neil Buchanan smash out an Art Attack using the heap of carrots before they get reused – that's if he isn't too busy being Banksy, of course.

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