Art activists under the umbrella name Liberate Tate–including Signs of Revolt exhibitors The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination–have been hard at work this year trying to end the Tate’s sponsorship by Oil company BP. In May during the 10th Birthday celebrations they entered the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern and launched dozens of giant black helium balloons with dead fish and birds hanging from them in a performance called Dead in the Water, here’s the video:
This action was followed a month later in June by an even more impressive performance at Tate Britain as the Tate celebrated 20 years of BP ‘support’ for British Art with a Summer Party…
This is their statement for this action:
LIBERATE TATE COMMUNIQUE #2
It was us and it was art! Last night (28 June), as the Tate celebrated 20 years of BP ‘support’ for British Art with a Summer Party, Liberate Tate disrupted the proceedings inside and out by pouring hundreds of litres of ‘oil’(molasses) and scattering thousands of feathers as the UK’s celebrity glitterati watched on in fascination. Sipping Pimms and gobbling canapés many of the guests expressed confusion at whether these striking actions were ‘art’ or not.
Despite inaccurate reporting in various media outlets, Liberate Tate would like to claim full responsibility for these acts of creative disobedience as art – art that refuses to pretend to do politics but is politics, art that makes transforming the world a beautiful adventure. The Tate Summer Party had been planned to be in the museum gardens and involve speeches from BP executives.
However, due to the rumours of disruption, Tate was forced to hold the entire event inside the museum and no speeches were made. As the evening sun baked down on the stone courtyard of Tate Britain and members of the cultural and corporate elite made their way into the party, 13 figures dressed in black, their faces veiled, appeared from around the corner. In a mournful procession the art-activists approached the entrance carrying large barrels branded with the BP logo. Dozens of photographers and TV cameras swarmed and a moment of tense silence enveloped the area. Something was going to happen.
Then in September 30 activists covered the floor of the iconic Turbine Hall with dozens of litres of oil paint. The flash mob-style event was staged a day before a Tate Board of Trustees meeting. Liberate Tate are part of a growing public movement calling on Tate’s governing body to end its sponsorship agreement with the oil company. Tate’s Board of Trustees has decided to review the BP corporate sponsorship. At 5pm, around 50 figures dressed in black entered the gallery each carrying a BP-branded oil paint tube. In a circle they placed the paint tubes on the floor and each stamped on one, spraying out dozens of litres of paint in a huge burst across the floor. The installation art work, ‘Crude’, was then signed ‘Liberate Tate’ and offered to Tate for its collection.
Blake Williams, a participant in the performance, said: “Ten years ago tobacco companies were seen as respectable partners for public institutions. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has brought home to an even wider public that the impact of big oil companies like BP on the environment and the global climate makes them equally unethical for an art museum, especially one that purports to demonstrate leadership in response to climate change.” Tate’s latest annual report (2009/10), released this month, claims “sustainability is a prime consideration throughout Tate’s work”. Tate reduced its energy use and overall carbon emissions last year and makes much of its partnership with the Carbon Trust and that it was a founding signatory to the national 10:10 campaign, launched at Tate Modern, aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. Liberate Tate said: “Tate has so far chosen to take a very narrow view of its footprint in relation to climate change and to not yet take into account its formal relationship with Big Oil. At a time when arts institutions wish to demonstrate how central the arts are in bringing social benefits to all and thus deserving of strong public funding, the museum must accept responsibility for its full impact in society.” ”Tate has a sponsor in BP that is engaged in socially and ecologically destructive activities. This is incompatible with Tate’s ethical guidelines, its stated vision in regard to sustainability and climate change, and for maintaining Tate’s reputation. In addition, its mission is undermined if visitors to Tate galleries cannot enjoy great art without the museum making them complicit in creating climate chaos. We call on the governing body to recognise this and end Tate’s relationship with BP.”
For more info on the campaign see: http://www.artnotoil.org.uk