Liberate Tate with The Guerrilla Girls call on Tate: go ‘Fossil Funds Free’

Saturday 8 October (7pm) art collective Liberate Tate with The Guerrilla Girls will challenge Tate to never again partner with any fossil fuel company after its controversial relationship with BP ends in early 2017.

Liberate Tate, who carried out a six-year long series of unsanctioned art interventions in Tate galleries over BP sponsorship, will issue the challenge at Tate Modern from the Guerilla Girls’ Complaints Department in the new Switch House building. In this installation, individuals and organisations are invited to post complaints about art, politics, the environment or other issues they care about.

Tate will be called upon to make the Fossil Funds Free commitment: a promise to not take any oil, coal, or gas corporate sponsorship. Already hundreds of institutions and artists, including some exhibited at Tate, are signed up to be Fossil Funds Free. The commitment is coordinated by Platform London, who will also be at Tate on Saturday.

Glen Tarman of Liberate Tate said: “In kicking BP out of Tate, the movement for fossil free culture has achieved something that appeared impossible. We are now calling on Tate to commit to not get into bed with a climate changing oil company ever again – to be ‘Fossil Funds Free’ for good.”

“We invite artists, Tate visitors and art lovers everywhere to join us in pressing Tate to add oil companies to tobacco and arms manufacturers as companies never to be associated with. If you agree that cultural institutions should not take sponsorship from oil companies in a time of climate change, make sure Tate and other museums you care about are part of a cultural world going fossil free forever.“

During this current London trip, The Guerrilla Girls have a message to oil sponsors of art museums and galleries, they say: “It’s time to get out!”

“In an early poster of ours called The Code of Ethics for Art Museums, one of the commandments was: thou shalt not permit corporations to launder their image by funding exhibitions at major museums, until they cleaneth up their toxic waste dumps. That was back in 1990, so we stated that problem early, and we stand by it.”

Platform campaigner Anna Galkina said: “Sponsorship masks BP’s role in destroying indigenous lands, arming dictatorships and wrecking our climate. That’s why artists and art organisations are going Fossil Funds Free. Now becoming free of BP, Tate can take this next step! We invite others across the world to join.”

The Fossil Funds Free commitment is so far made by 400 artists, performers, and cultural organisations from around the world. They refuse their work to be used to justify and promote dangerous fossil fuel extraction. By creating an oil-free cultural sector, this movement is enabling the transition to a liveable future without fossil fuels.

Open invitation to artists and public / photocall:

Saturday 8 October 7pm Liberate Tate at the Complaints Department operated by The Guerrilla Girls, Tate Exchange, Level 5, Switch House, Tate Modern –

You can complain about other stuff too whilst you are there, join Fossil Funds Free, and/or call on Tate to do so!

Notes to editors: Contact Glen on 07919 557055 e: liberatetate@gmail.com
Photos will be available – see twitter handles below – hashtag #fossilfundsfree

A full list of signatories and information on Fossil Funds Free is available at www.fossilfundsfree.org

End notes:

Liberate Tate (liberatetate.org.uk @liberatetate) is an art collective that has been exploring the role of creative intervention in social change by making unsanctioned Live Art in Tate gallery spaces since 2010. With an aim to free art from oil, Liberate Tate initially focused on Tate ending its sponsorship deal with BP, and in March 2016 Tate announced that from 2017 it would no longer receive funding from BP. Liberate Tate performances have included spilling oil-like substances in museum galleries, installing a 16.5m wind turbine blade in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, occupying the gallery overnight in a durational performance transcribing texts in charcoal onto the floor, and giving permanent climate tattoos.

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Tate is Liberated (2016): Liberate Tate performance celebrates the news that BP sponsorship at Tate will come to end with black confetti thrown down from Tate Modern Turbine Hall roof. Image Copyright: indyrikki

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The Guerilla Girls (www.guerrillagirls.com @guerrillagirls) is a group of female artists, writers, performers and arts professionals fighting discrimination with humour, activism and art. For more on the Complaints Department at Tate: www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/workshop/tate-exchange/complaints-department.

Guerrilla Girls’ Code Of Ethics For Art Museums 1990 by Guerrilla Girls
Guerrilla Girls’ Code Of Ethics For Art Museums (1990) Purchased by Tate 2003

Tate has the Guerilla Girls’ Code of Ethics For Art Museums in its collection.

The Fossil Funds Free commitment (www.fossilfundsfree.org ) states: ‘We do not take any oil, coal, or gas corporate sponsorship for our cultural work. We call on our peers and institutional partners to refuse fossil fuel funding too.’
The Fossil Funds Free commitment is coordinated by Platform (www.platformlondon.org @PlatformLondon) with support from Liberate Tate as well as the Art Not Oil Coalition (UK), Not An Alternative (US), The Natural History Museum (US), BP Or Not BP? (UK), and Stopp oljesponsing av norsk kulturliv (Norway)
BP sponsorship of Tate will have lasted just over 26 years. In February 2017 BP will be gone from Tate with the end of the present contract. In July 2017 former BP CEO John Browne leaves as Tate’s Board Chair. Liberate Tate is calling for the incoming Chair to have no ties to fossil fuels extraction, as Browne still has, such that Tate’s damaged reputation with artists and the climate-conscious public can be repaired from the poor judgements of the past and Tate can be part of the climate solution not part of the problem.

Liberate Tate response to BP sponsorship renewals

In response to news that BP was renewing controversial sponsorship deals with a number of cultural institutions in London, Yasmin De Silva, one of the performers with art collective Liberate Tate said:

“The news that a number of cultural institutions have decided to renew sponsorship with BP comes after 14 consecutive months of record global temperatures. While it’s widely acknowledged that we can only consume a fraction of known fossil fuel reserves if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, BP’s business model depends on finding and burning more.

“By providing BP with a veneer of cultural respectability, institutions like the British Museum and the Royal Opera House are actively aligning themselves with those who seek to trash the climate. They can expect a renewed wave of creative intervention from the many groups who are pushing back against the destructive power and influence that oil companies are exerting in our society.”

Liberate Tate spent six years carrying out performance-interventions in a variety of Tate spaces in protest over its BP sponsorship until Tate ended the deal.

Anna Galkina from are and campaigning organisation Platform said:
“BP is ripping off our cultural institutions – the sponsorship provides less than 0.5% of the British Museum’s budget. With this pocket change, BP buys legitimacy, access to invaluable advertising space, and masks its role in destroying indigenous lands, arming dictatorships, and wrecking our climate. The museums help BP do that. That’s why art interventions and protests against BP will go on. The new deals will not last five years.”

BP or Not BP? vowed to overturn the decision, commenting:
“At a time when the world needs to urgently shift away from fossil fuels, the idea that these institutions will still be promoting an oil company into the 2020s is deeply irresponsible. As the devastating effects of climate change become ever more apparent, this decision will look more shortsighted with every passing day. It is also a kick in the teeth to everyone dealing with the negative consequences of BP’s operations around the world.

In making this decision, these cultural institutions are going against the wishes of the people of London, large numbers of their own workers, and many respected cultural figures, scientists and academics.”

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Liberate Tate wins six year campaign to end BP sponsorship of Tate

 

Today oil company BP announced its 26 yearsponsorship of UK art gallery Tate would end at the start of 2017.

 

Art collective Liberate Tate(1), alongside thousands of artists, members and gallery-goers, had called on Tate to end the contract on ethical grounds. This announcement comes close to the end of Tate and BP’s current five-year deal, and the group had been pushing Tate not to sign another similar contract.

 

Yasmin De Silva:

“We’re thrilled with the news Tate is rid of BP. About thirty years ago, the tide turned on tobacco sponsorship, and now the same thing is happening to the oil industry. Of course Tate won’t rub it in BP’s face by acknowledging this decision is the result of the increasing public concern about climate change and the huge number of artists, members and gallery-goers speaking out about against the controversial deal.”

 

She continued:

 

“BP is a company whose business model depends on trashing the climate, and it shouldn’t receive credibility by being associated with our most-cherished cultural institutions. April will see the sixth anniversary of the start of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, we think of all the people around the world who have suffered the impacts of BP’s operations and can now know that Tate will no longer wipe its name clean. It’s time for other institutions sponsored by BP, Shell and other oil companies – like National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Opera House and British Museum – to follow Tate’s lead and end their deals.”

 

Liberate Tate is an art collective that formed in 2010 to ‘free Tate from BP’. The group has made numerous performance interventions inside Tate galleries, including covering a naked man in an oil-like substance (Human Cost, 2011), a hundred people assembling a 16.5 metre-long wind turbine blade (The Gift, 2012), fifty people counting aloud the increases in carbon dioxide through chronologically ordered gallery spaces (Parts Per Million, 2013), transcribing texts on art and climate change across a massive area of the gallery floor overnight (Time Piece, 2015), and about fifty people receiving tattoos showing carbon dioxide levels (Birthmark, 2015). For more information on performances visit liberatetate.org.uk.

 

 

 

 

Here’s what we got up to in 2014…

Late at Tate Britain 1840s GIF party

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Liberate Tate was delighted to accept the open invitation from Tate to submit GIFs for its animation collage installation at the 7 February 2014 Late at Tate Britain 1840s GIF party. Tate promised to display all the submissions it received so we submitted 16 – each evoking how works in Tate are tarnished by sponsorship from BP.

Remixing artworks from the 1840s room was poignant for us as it was where we started our performance Parts Per Million (November 2013), a work calling out the parts of carbon in the atmosphere in each of the chronologically hung rooms of the BP Walk Through British Art. Oil companies like BP are among the worst culprits for pushing us to the unsafe and catastrophic levels that we are now facing yet Tate continues to promote the fossil fuel economy, even corrupting the national collection to that effort.

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25 Portraits in Oil (as part of Art Not Oil)

25 Portraits In Oil On 21 June 2014 25 performers scattered throughout the National Portrait Gallery simultaneously had oil poured over their faces in a dramatic protest performance against the gallery celebrating 25 years of sponsorship from BP. The performance took place just days ahead of the gallery’s BP Portrait Award 2014 prize ceremony.

25 Portraits in Oil was carried out by Liberate Tate with Reclaim Shakespeare Company, London Rising Tide and Shell Out Sounds – a number of groups from the Art Not Oil coalition of organisations which seeks an end to oil-industry sponsorship of the arts.

A film of the performance can be viewed here. Our friends at Platform released Picture This – A Portrait of 25 Years of BP Sponsorship – a report outlining of 25 of BP’s major environmental catastrophes, human rights violations, and backroom deals, one for each year since BP’s first NPG sponsorship in 1989, and acute analysis on the role of art in society in relation to ethics and sponsorship.

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Photo credit Martin LeSanto-Smith

Hidden Figures

On 6 September 2014 over a hundred members and supporters of Liberate Tate carried out an unsolicited interpretation of Kazimir Malevich’s iconic Black Square in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. Hidden Figures was a dramatic reference to Tate’s refusal to disclose information about its controversial sponsorship relationship with BP.

In April 2014, the UK’s Information Commissioner ruled that Tate was breaking information law by refusing to remove a series of black squares covering information about the sponsorship deal in meeting minutes of Tate’s Ethics Committee and Board. Tate decided to take the case to the Information Tribunal and Hidden Figures was days before the court hearing on 18 September.

Malevich’s Black Square was on display as part of the Malevich exhibition at Tate Modern as Liberate Tate unfurled a 64 square metre black cloth. Performers gathered around the edges of the giant Black Square and in unison raised the material up into the air. Individual performers and many children then took turns to enter underneath the material making a series of shapes and poses while the material settled on top of them. A selection of pictures of Hidden Figures can be viewed here.

Other appearances

Liberate Tate is increasingly invited to present at events (for details of how to invite us see here). In 2014 we were pleased to speak at many events in London (including the V&A) and wider across the UK as well as internationally. Some of these appearances are filmed such as our performance lecture at the Performing Protest conference at Leuven University in Belgium which is viewable online in for clips (an introduction to Liberate Tate and three descriptions of performances: Human Cost, The Gift and Parts Per Million).

tate-members-calling

Supporting other voices: artists, Tate members and the wider public

Tate Members Calling On Tate To Drop BPIn our work we seek to support artists, art lovers and other concerned members of the public to act to ensure that Tate ends its oil sponsorship remains open. In December we made available a record of key interventions on BP and Tate at the Tate Members AGM 2014. The representations of Tate members about BP should be made public by Tate, but given the art museum lacks such transparency we demonstrate there is no barrier to being open on member voice.

With others in Art Not Oil we have made available a petition for the public to sign to tell Tate and other UK cultural institutions to drop BP sponsorship on here: http://www.dropbp.org/

Archive and documentation

We continue to rework our archive and documentation which this year has resulted in a number of new outputs including a new video of The Gift which can be viewed below:

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A major victory as the year ends: British courts order Tate to disclose BP sponsorship figures

On 22 December 2014 an Information Rights Decision of the First Tier Tribunal of the UK court declared: “Tate shall disclose within 35 days from the date of this decision the BP sponsorship figures from 1990 to 2006 inclusive”.Tate Redaction

Liberate Tate has been among the groups calling for this transparency. The Freedom of Information court ruling comes after a three-year legal fight that began with Tate’s refusal to disclose sponsorship information requested by a Liberate Tate member in December 2011. The case was taken up by Request Initiative, working with campaign group Platform, and law firm Leigh Day resulting in a major legal victory for the movement to break support of fossil fuel companies by public cultural institutions in a time of climate change.

Tate could appeal the Tribunal’s decision in January. The art museum would be wise not to – it’s time for payments to public institutions by oil companies to be in the open.

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2015 – a big year for ending oil sponsorship of public arts and culture

2014 has proved to be yet another year of building momentum to end oil sponsorship of public culture with performances, protest, campaign actions and outreach of many groups advancing the cause with a backdrop of debate on and in the arts about ethics and corporate funding.

The context has also included the rise of the divestment movement with ever more public institutions reviewing their backing of the fossil fuel industry and breaking away from it.

In 2015 the effort to end oil sponsorship of the arts intensifies still further as a critical phase is entered.

Whilst the £10 million arts sponsorship deal by BP with four of London’s major arts institutions – Tate, Royal Opera House, British Museum and National Portrait Gallery – goes into early 2017, the processes for renewal of the sponsorship deal are gearing up. At the 2014 Tate Members AGM where BP dominated the agenda yet again Tate Director Nick Serota said the relationship would be reviewed in 2016. That makes 2015 a critical year.

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Liberate Tate donated a print to Tate Members for the Members Room at the 2014 AGM in December

Those working to get oil out of the arts have many challenges ahead. Yet the window for change is opening: the right pressure can mean decisions are made for cultural institutions to break free of Big Oil.

2015 will see the issue of climate change come into the mainstream spotlight again with renewed intensity as large-scale mass-mobilisation campaigns build for substantive political action and ambition at COP-UNFCCC in Paris in December.

The message is clear – no new deal between public cultural institutions and BP. The public arts and culture sector should be part of the solution on climate change not part of the problem.

Thanks to everyone who supported Liberate Tate in 2014 – we look forward to connecting with you in 2015 as the movement to free art from oil grows.

We have a number of performances under development … watch this space!

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