Activists Protest BP Sponsorship in Tate Museum

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CONSUMERIST– A group of art activists this week staged an unsanctioned protest inside the world-famous Tate Modern museum in London by pouring oil over a naked body lying on the floor.

Wearing black hoods, two of the artists slowly pour the oil from gas cans painted with the BP logo over the fetal form of a third member lying naked. A Bach piece in minor plays underneath the video, which is safe for work.

The group behind the protest is called Liberate Tate, whose aim is to get the museum to break off ties with BP and stop taking sponsorship payola from the oil giant. The group was formed in 2010 during a workshop on art and activism that the museum itself sponsored. “The art activists running the workshops,” says the group on its website, “were told by Tate curators that no interventions could be made against the museum’s sponsors. The workshop participants refused this censorship, ended the workshop with an intervention and decided to continue their work together, setting up Liberate Tate the following spring.”

“Liberate Tate believes Tate’s sponsorship by BP, a corporation engaged in socially and ecologically destructive activities, is incompatible with the museum’s ethical guidelines,” continues the group’s statement. “Tate’s stated vision in regard to sustainability and climate change and its reputation as a progressive institution is damaged by its association with oil companies. In addition, Tate’s mission is undermined if visitors to its galleries cannot enjoy great art without the museum making them complicit in creating climate chaos. Liberate Tate calls on the museum’s governing body to recognise this and end its relationship with BP.”

Human Cost, Tate Britain Performance (87 minutes), charcoal and sunflower oil 20 April 2011– First anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

© 2011 Consumerist

LIBERATETATE– On the same day, 166 people who work in the arts published a letter in the Guardian calling on Tate to end its sponsorship relationship with BP. “In the year since its catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP has massively ramped up its investment in controversial tar sands extraction in Canada, has been shown to have been a key backer of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, and has attempted to commence drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean. While BP continues to jeopardise ecosystems communities and the climate by the reckless pursuit of “frontier” oil, cultural institutions like Tate damage their reputation by continuing to be associated with such a destructive corporation.

The massive cuts to public arts funding in the UK have left hundreds of culturally important arts organisations in a position of great financial vulnerability, which means that the debate about the appropriateness of particular potential corporate sponsors like BP and Shell is more relevant than ever. As people working in the arts, we believe that corporate sponsorship does not exist in an ethical vacuum. In light of the negative social and ecological impacts of BP around the world, we urge Tate to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable future by ending its sponsorship relationship with BP.”

‘End oil sponsorship of the arts’ on Facebook, @liberatetate on twitter

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