For immediate release 30 August 2012
Liberate Tate’s artwork The Gift installed in Tate Modern Turbine Hall in guerrilla performance by over 100 members of art collective
Public call for Tate to accept work for the nation to be enjoyed by all amidst on-going controversy about gallery link to BP
Tate Director Nicholas Serota has confirmed that the Tate’s governing Board of Trustees is to decide at its upcoming meeting whether the 16.5 metre, 1.5 tonne wind turbine blade art collective Liberate Tate installed in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall is to be accepted as part of Tate’s permanent collection.
The artwork, called ‘The Gift’, was installed in an unofficial performance on 7 July involving over 100 members of Liberate Tate, the group that has become internationally renowned for artworks about ending the relationship of public cultural institutions with oil companies.
The artists also submitted official documentation (see below) for the artwork to be a gift to the nation ‘given for the benefit of the public’ under the provisions of the Museums and Galleries Act 1992, the Act from which Tate’s mission is drawn.
In a communication to Liberate Tate, Serota said: “Thank you for this formal offer of the object that you deposited in the Turbine Hall which will be presented to our trustees for their consideration at their next meeting in September”. The Tate Trustee’s Board Meeting is on Wednesday 19 September at Tate Liverpool.
In recent weeks the public call for Tate to accept the artwork on behalf of the nation has been growing. Over 1000 people have signed a Tate member petition ‘Bring the wind turbine blade back into the Turbine Hall’ calling on Tate Trustees “to accept the artwork as part of Tate’s permanent collection”.
The petition letter to Nicholas Serota and Tate Trustees also says: “Liberate Tate created this artwork using an icon of renewable energy with an express wish for Tate to stop its relationship with BP so the public gallery’s reputation cannot be used to improve the oil company’s terrible image following the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
“Through your relationship with sponsor BP, Tate is forcing climate-conscious gallery goers into an uncomfortable position of complicity with the oil company, one of the most environment-destroying corporations on the planet”.
The role of the Board of Trustees of Tate, both a publicly funded institution and a charity, includes acting as guardians for the public interest as well as deciding on major acquisitions. The Chair of the Tate Board is former BP Chief Executive Lord Browne.
Sharon Palmer from Liberate Tate said: “The Gift is a work we’d hoped would resonate with artists, art lovers and the wider public; people who care about the harm being done by this oil company to affected communities, the world we live in and generations to come. We are delighted that the public and artists want Tate to accept the work for its collection.”
Tate Trustees have an agreed policy of working with artists and audiences to inspire new thinking around sustainability and Tate is committed “to find appropriate and imaginative ways to reflect the responses and commitment of artists [that] engage with environmental issues in their work and have chosen to be vocal in public debate … to maximise the potential for public engagement and discussion through art”.
Unilever recently announced it was ending its sponsorship of commissioned works in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall. Tino Sehgal’s These associations, is the last work sponsored to be by Unilever and closes 28 October. The Turbine Hall could be used to re-present Liberate Tate’s The Gift from November or the Tanks used when the Turbine Hall temporarily closes in 2013 due to Tate’s expansion project.
Whilst Unilever ends its series with Tate to focus its sponsorship budget on reducing its environmental impact, Tate sponsor BP continues environmental destruction. In addition to the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico spill, BP is also expanding into devastating tar sands extraction in Canada, is drilling in risky regions in the Arctic and as a company is responsible for more carbon emissions than the UK itself.
The Gift is Liberate Tate’s fourth artwork in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall.
Pictures and footage of the performance of The Gift are available for media from http://www.flickr.com/photos/toastyoneuk/sets/72157630466036976/with/7521674822/
Photos must be creditted to Martin LeSanto-Smith
For comment, information or images email@example.com / Telephone 07847 830164
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Note to editors
- Liberate Tate (www.liberatetate.org) is an art collective exploring the role of creative intervention in social change dedicated to taking creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding. Contact: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org twitter www.twitter.com/liberatetate / @liberatetate blog http://liberatetate.wordpress.com/.
- The 7 July 2012 wind turbine blade performance of Liberate Tate follows earlier self-curated performances at Tate by the art collective including (with video links):
* ‘Human Cost’: a performance in Tate Britain on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion (April 2011) when a naked member of the group had an oil-like substance poured over them on the floor in the exhibition Single Form dedicated to the human body and part of ‘BP British Art Displays’.
* ‘Dead in the water’: a contribution to Tate Modern 10th Birthday celebrations (May 2010) by hanging dead fish and birds from giant black helium balloons in the Turbine Hall.
‘License to spill’: an oil spill at the Tate Summer Party celebrating 20 years of BP support (June 2010).
‘Crude/Sunflower’: an installation artwork which saw over 30 members of the collective draw a giant sunflower in the Turbine Hall with black oil paint bursting from BP-branded tubes of paint (September 2010).
Liberate Tate, with Art Not Oil and Platform London, also present a site-specific sound artwork themed around the issue of BP sponsorship of Tate, Tate à Tate, which is an alternative audio tour of Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the Tate Boat http://tateatate.org/.
- Liberate Tate’s ‘The Gift’ is a gift to the nation ‘given for the benefit of the public’ under the provisions of the Museums and Galleries Act 1992, the Act from which Tate’s mission is drawn. See also Gift to the Nation: Letter to Tate below.
- Tate Modern is housed in the former Bankside Power Station designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The Tate Modern Turbine Hall was a space where oil was once burnt to light London. In July 2012 the Oil Tanks opened as a new space at Tate Modern in what were originally huge industrial chambers containing oil that fuelled the power station until it was decommissioned in 1981.
- This year Tate confirmed in a reply to a Freedom of Information Act request that it has received more representations raising concerns about BP’s sponsorship than any other issue since the oil company became linked with the gallery in 1990. Thousands have called in the last year alone for Tate to disengage from BP due to the devastating impacts of the company around the world to ecosystems, communities and the climate. For example, over 8,000 people signed an Open Letter to Nicholas Serota about BP (online here http://liberatetate.wordpress.com/open-letter-to-nicholas-serota/).
- Tate Sustainability Strategy released by Liberate Tate is here: http://liberatetate.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/tates-sustainability-strategy/.
- For more on oil and arts sponsorship see the recent publication by Liberate Tate, Platform and Art Not Oil, ‘Not If But When: Culture Beyond Oil’ available to read online here: http://platformlondon.org/p-publications/culutr/
Gift to the Nation: Letter to Tate
Dear Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, and the Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery,
We, Liberate Tate, make a gift of the artwork specified below to the Tate Gallery to become its permanent property.
Artist: Liberate Tate
Title: The Gift
Medium: Performance (wind-turbine blade, communiqué and performance documentation, including photographic records and video documentation)
Date: 7 July 2012
1. Exhibition of The Gift should include all elements of the artwork: the wind turbine blade, communiqué and performance documentation.
2. We gift this artwork with the intention of increasing the public’s understanding and enjoyment of contemporary art.
3. We understand that the material we are giving shall be available to curators and researchers as part of the Tate Gallery’s public collection.
4. Being the sole owner of the material, we give this material (and any additions which we may make to it) unencumbered to the Tate Gallery.
Date: 7 July 2012
Liberate Tate Communique #3 The Gift
“It is easy to see,” replied Don Quixote, “that thou art not used to this business of adventures; those are giants; and if thou art afraid, away with thee out of this and betake thyself to prayer while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat.”
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
There may not be much to celebrate these days, but we have given you a gift anyway. This is perhaps the largest present you have ever received, the most unexpected and the most disobedient, the strangest and the hardest to get rid of. What we have given you is a new work of art, which like all the best works is wrapped in the selflessness of creativity, an act of gratitude that keeps on giving.
Despite recent reports that our biosphere is approaching a ‘tipping point’ where ecosystems are close to a sudden and irreversible change that could extinguish human life; despite years of creative protest and thousands of signatories petitioning Tate to clean up its image and let go of its relationship with a company that is fuelling catastrophe; despite all these things, Tate continue to promote the burning of fossil fuels by taking the poisoned ‘gift’ of funding from BP. This is why today we have given you something you could not refuse.
The law of this island requires that all “gifts to the nation”, donations of art from the people, be considered as works for public museums. Consider this one judiciously. We think that it is a work that will fit elegantly in the Tate collection, a work that celebrates a future that gives rather than takes away, a gentle whispering solution, a monument to a world in transition.
‘The Gift’, weighing one and a half tonnes, has been moved hundreds of miles from a Welsh valley, lovingly prepared and carried by hand by hundreds of people across London to be deposited in the Turbine Hall, a space where oil was once burnt to light this city. The journey of ‘The Gift’ bears witness to an epic of cooperation and points to a time beyond fossil fuels.
Resting on the floor of your museum, it might resemble the bones of a leviathan monster washed up from the salty depths, a suitable metaphor for the deep arctic drilling that BP is profiting from now that the ice is melting. But it is not animal, nor is it dead, it is a living relic from a future that is aching to become the present. It is part of a magic machine, a tool of transformation, a grateful giant.
What we have brought you is the blade of an old wind turbine, sixteen and a half metres long, beautifully sharpened by the weather. It is a blade to cut the unhealthy umbilical cord that connects culture with oil, a blade that reminds us that when crisis comes, when the winds blow strong, the best thing to do is not to build another wall but raise a windmill…
Yours, in gratitude,