Oil Out of Culture — Not An Alternative, Liberate Tate, BP or not BP?
Oil Out of Culture
Not An Alternative, Liberate Tate, BP or not BP?
Past: Tuesday, December 8, 2015 7 PM → 10:30 PM
In the midst of the climate crisis, an international movement of arts/activist collectives has taken shape around a common demand to cultural institutions: cut all ties to fossil fuels. Railing against BP’s sponsorship of Tate Galleries in London, Shell’s sponsorship of climate change programming at London Science Museum, Total’s sponsorship of the Louvre, and climate denier David Koch’s position on the board of the American Museum of Natural History, these groups are taking aim at the role cultural institutions play in variably green-washing or “art-washing” fossil fuel sponsors—laundering their public image, while diverting attention away from their relentless environmental and human rights abuses around the world.
On the occasion of the 21e UN climate summit in Paris, COP21, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers and La Générale will co-host a two-day meeting with groups from 6 or 7 countries around the world that are all doing “cultural divestment” work, borrowing methodologies from Institutional Critique to call on cultural institutions to cut ties to sponsors from the fossil fuel industry. Some of these groups are Liberate Tate (UK), BP or not BP? (UK), and Not An Alternative (US).
At the end of the meeting, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers will stage a public discussion with artists from Liberate Tate (UK), BP or not BP? (UK), and Not An Alternative (US) about the creative tools central to their unauthorized interventionist practices.
Drawing on strategies culled from the artistic practice of institutional critique and activist organizing in equal measure, they suggest that we should recalibrate our relationship to institutions—to not only imagine ways of opposing, dissolving, or drawing lines of flight from existing institutional power, but also to imagine how existing institutional forms can be occupied and used as tools for the production of culture and collective solidarity against the corporations that bare the greatest responsibility for climate change.
Liberate Tate (represented by Mel Evans)
Liberate Tate is an art collective exploring the role of creative intervention in social change. The group aims to “free art from oil” with a primary focus on the art museum Tate ending its corporate sponsorship with BP. Liberate Tate has become internationally renowned for artworks about the relationship of public cultural institutions with oil companies.
BP or not BP? (represented by Chris Garrard)
BP or not BP? is an “actor-vist” theatre group who use performance to take on oil sponsorship of cultural institutions. They began life in 2012, invading the stages of BP-sponsored plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing oil-themed parodies of the bard’s work. After BP’s logo was dropped, they turned their attention elsewhere, taking on Shell and BP at institutions across London and at the Edinburgh International Festival. They have now held 13 performances inside the BP-sponsored British Museum and in September, hosted a mass festival of protest involving 15 groups and over 250 people in the museum’s Great Court.
Not An Alternative (represented by Beka Economopoulos)
Not An Alternative is a NY-based collective that operates at the intersection of art, activism, and pedagogy. The group has a mission to affect popular understandings of symbols, institutions, and history, producing interventions that create participatory points of entry for arts audiences and everyday citizens alike. Its programs have been featured within art institutions, such as Guggenheim and PS1/MOMA (NY), Tate Modern and Victoria & Albert Museum (London), and Museo Del Arte Moderno (Mexico City), and in the public sphere, in collaboration with activists and community groups. Not An Alternative’s latest, ongoing project is The Natural History Museum, a new museum that highlights the socio-political forces that shape nature, yet are excluded from traditional natural history museums.
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Bp Or Not Bp?
Not An Alternative