As the Tate Modern celebrated its 10th Anniversary, art activists from the group Liberate Tate released balloons carrying oil-soaked fake birds and dead fish in protest of the museums ties to British Petroleum. With the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reaching its 1 month point today and still gushing, this action couldn’t have more appropriate timing.
Liberate Tate distributed a communiqué throughout the museum during the opening promising addition actions to ‘free art from oil’ until the Tate ends its ties with BP. The group stated, “Every time we step inside the museum Tate makes us complicit with acts that are harming people and creating environmental destruction and climate change, acts that will one day seem as archaic as the slave trade. We call on Tate to become a responsible, ethical and truly sustainable organisation for the 21st century and drop its sponsorship by oil companies. As a public institution the Tate’s Trustees, chaired as they are by an ex-CEO of BP, must abandon its association with BP. All visitors to the Tate must be able to enjoy great art with a clear conscience about the impact of the museum on society and the environment.”
According to Indymedia UK, “the Tate staff [had] burst some of the oil bubble-like black balloons by climbing onto a high gantry, but many remained out of reach and the rotting fish and sea birds hovered above the evening’s celebrations headlined by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Rumours circulated that Tate would commission a marksman to shoot the remaining balloons down from the top of the former power station.”