Artists Stage Theatrical Protest of BP Sponsorship in Tate Modern's Galleries

Artists Stage Theatrical Protest of BP Sponsorship in Tate Modern's Galleries
Liberate Tate, All Rise, April 2013
(Courtesy Liberate Tate / Photo: Amy Scaife)

LONDON — Liberate Tate — one of the leading groups protesting against Tate’s controversial sponsorship deal with oil giant BP — was making waves on the third anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Yesterday afternoon, at around 3 p.m. UK time, three performers filmed themselves at Tate Modern as they murmured snippets from the BP trial’s court proceedings. Entitled All Rise, the event was live-streamed on (where it currently remains available). Similar performances will take place every day through the end of the week (Friday). 


“It’s not only BP that’s on trial for the devastation it has caused to Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems, it’s also Tate and other cultural institutions that provide BP with the social legitimacy to continue operating with such destructive consequences,” said performer Paul Brady.

“We’re making a performance that brings the BP trial into Tate Modern because BP’s arts sponsorship cannot be separated from the irrevocable damage it does to communities and the climate.”

This weeklong action follows from a letter sent last December by a handful of Tate members to the Tate Members Council asking it to sever all links with BP. The crux of the argument is that since BP received a $4.5-billion criminal fine after the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the company’s sponsorship is in breach of Tate Ethics Policy, which states that the institution will not accept money when “the donor has acted, or is believed to have acted, illegally in the acquisition of funds.”

According to Liberate Tate, the council said they would discuss this in February, but hasn’t released any statements since. “The Members feel like the board's concern over this was largely lip-service at the AGM,” said a Liberate Tate representative in an email to ARTINFO UK.

At the time of the letter, Tate claimed that the BP sponsorship deal fitted within its ethics policy. Liberate Tate — whose past performances have involved pouring an oil-like substance over a naked performer, and sending members to the Tate Summer Party with oil gushing out from under their gowns — vowed in 2010 that it would continue “creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding.”