PRESS RELEASE For immediate release
18 July 2011
American performance group and British artists, activists and art lovers congregate in call for gallery to end its relationship with oil company
Monday (18 July) Reverend Billy and the Church of Earthalujah choir joined with art activists, artists, Tate members and concerned members of the public at 17.30 in the Tate Turbine Hall to lay hands on Tate Modern and cast out the demon of BP’s oil sponsorship of the art institution.
An exorcism of the evil spirit of BP was performed in a special service in the Turbine Hall of the national gallery of international modern art. The Reverend Billy had an oil-like substance dramatically poured over his white suit by his gospel choir before being escorted out of the building. The gospel choir sung choruses of “Tate takes money from BP, and BP’s money is the devil.”
The event was brought to Tate by five different UK-based groups – Liberate Tate, UK Tar Sands Network, London Rising Tide, Art Not Oil and Climate Rush – all of which have staged multiple performance interventions and protests at Tate, part of a growing movement to rid public arts institutions from oil companies with negative social and environmental impacts all around the world.
Reverend Billy, the world famous preacher, said: “For 20 long years, BP has embedded its foulness deep within Tate, using the fair face of the arts to mask the stench of its true nature. Today the possession of this dark beast lurking within the bosom of one of our most cherished arts institutions is coming to an end.”
“While good-hearted, god-fearing gallery-goers glory in the miracle of art, the beast below is encircling the planet with its oily tentacles, destroying righteous communities, poisoning God’s beauteous creations, and bringing us all ever closer to the climate apocalypse. Art will soon be free of big oil interests. Eviction has begun. Brothers and sisters, it’s time to liberate the Tate!”
Chris Sands, a participant in the performance said: “When Tate takes money from the fossil fuel industry it is endorsing climate change rather than backing activity which moves us away from an environmental crisis that is already destroying lives and livelihoods. We have to ensure our public arts institutions are financed responsibly, transparently and ethically for the good of the art world and the planet.”
Tate and other public cultural institutions have seen long-standing public concern about their relations with oil companies. The numbers of artists involved have grown over recent years with many hundreds of artists publicly demanding Tate end links with BP, and guerilla art performances adding to creative protests in Tate galleries. The exorcism comes less than a week after a ‘guerilla ballet’ performance took place at the BP-sponsored Big Screen in Trafalgar Square, highlighting the oil company’s involvement in destructive tar sands extraction in Canada.
BP continues to use its arts sponsorship to project a public image at odds with its operations and lobbying. As part of a multi-million pound effort to create a social license to operate, the company has launched its first television advertising campaign since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill which centres on its arts, culture and sports sponsorship in an attempt to alter public perception about the company.
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Photos of the exorcism for commercial available through Rex Features.
Notes to editors:
The Guerilla Ballet performance took place on Wednesday evening in Trafalgar Square shortly before the BP-sponsored screening of the Royal Opera House’s Cinderella. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2011/jul/15/dance-oil-industry-arts-funding-ballet-bp
Reverend Billy and the Church of Earthalujah (www.revbilly.com) is part theatre piece, part church service, part performance art and wholly inspirational. The Church of Earthalujah condemns the corporate exploiters and polluters of the world to the Lake of Hellfire.
Liberate Tate (www.liberatetate.org) is an art collective exploring the role of creative intervention in social change dedicated to taking creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScr www.twitter.com/liberatetate.
UK Tar Sands Network (www.no-tar-sands.org) campaigns in partnership with Indigenous communities affected by the Tar Sands oil developments in Canada. It targets UK and European companies, banks and governments involved in the world’s most destructive project. Contact email@example.com.
London Rising Tide (www.londorisingtide.org.uk) takes creative action on the root causes of climate chaos, and promotes socially just, ecological alternatives to the fossil fuel madness that we’re living through. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Not Oil (www.artnotoil.org.uk) encourages artists – and would-be artists – to create work that explores the damage that companies like BP and Shell are doing to the planet, and the role art can play in counteracting that damage. Contact email@example.com.
Climate Rush (www.climaterush.co.uk) is a Suffragettes-inspired group taking responsibility now to prepare for the future through direct action against climate criminals and their allies. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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