2011, Artists from art activist group Liberate Tate staged a performance in the Tate Britain on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days.
A naked member of the group had an oil-like substance poured over him by silent figures dressed in black and wearing veils, and lay in a fetal position on the floor in the middle of the exhibition Single Form. Dedicated to the human body, Single Form is one of a series of ‘BP British Art Displays’ staged throughout the galleries of Tate Britain.
Liberate Tate is a network dedicated to taking creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding.
The network was founded during a workshop in January 2010 on art and activism, commissioned by Tate.
When Tate curators tried to censor the workshop from making interventions against Tate sponsors, even though none had been planned, the incensed participants decided to continue their work together beyond the workshop and set up Liberate Tate.
LIBERATE TATE COMMUNIQUE #1 MAY 2010 – Released during Tate Modern’s 10 year Birthday Celebration Weekend.
Happy Birthday. We wish we could celebrate with you. But we can’t.
As we write, your corporate sponsor BP is creating the largest oil painting in the world, inspired by profit margins and a culture that puts money in front of life, its shadowy stain shimmers across the Gulf of Mexico. A toxic tide that turns thriving ecosystems into deserts and deprives cultures of their way of life, it is one of the world’s greatest works of corporate art, a work that reeks of death and speaks of our society’s failure of imagination.
Every day Tate scrubs clean BP’s public image with the detergent of cool progressive culture. But there is nothing innovative or cutting edge about a company that knowingly feeds our addiction to fossil fuels despite a climate crisis, a company whose greed has killed twenty-one employees in just over a year, a company that continues to invest in the cancer-causing climate crimes of tar sands in Alberta, Canada.
By placing the words BP and Art together, the destructive and obsolete nature of the fossil fuel industry is masked, and crimes against the future are given a slick and stainless sheen…(more)