Tate’s “hidden figures” over BP sponsorship subject of new Liberate Tate performance

Advance media notice/advisory – For Immediate Release

Who: The art collective Liberate Tate

What: Participatory performance art in conversation with Tate’s refusal to disclose the amount of money it receives from BP

When: 6 September, 1pm

Where: The exact Tate location has yet to be disclosed

The art collective Liberate Tate is inviting people to a piece of participatory performance art on Saturday 6 September in an as-yet-undisclosed Tate location. Later in September, Tate will be appearing before the Information Tribunal to appeal a ruling that ordered Tate to reveal discussions that have taken place over the controversial subject of BP sponsorship.

The Liberate Tate website currently features an image of the Black Square from the current Malevich retrospective at Tate and says:

“We’re going to play a game with Tate. It’s sort of like hide and seek…We want Tate to reveal the exact amount of money they get from BP – it’s estimated to be less than 0.5% of their annual budget. Do you want to join us? While Tate holds a Malevich Retrospective exhibition, we’re going to ask, what would radical, revolutionary Malevich think of BP, and what could we do with a Black Square of our own?”

Black Square on Malevich's grave

Black Square on Malevich’s grave

The performance is taking place 12 days before Tate is due to appear before the Information Tribunal. In March 2014 the Information Commissioner ruled that Tate was breaking information law on several counts by refusing to remove redactions from committee minutes discussing the controversial issue of BP sponsorship. Tate appealed the ruling in April 2014.

Yasmin De Silva of Liberate Tate said:

“There are hundreds of interpretations of Malevich’s iconic ‘Black Square’.  Our performance references Tate’s culture of secrecy that stifles vital debate about its controversial relation with the oil company BP. It’s important the public can know how much money Tate is getting from BP because it shows how much of an option it is for Tate to drop that sponsorship. We suspect it’s a pretty small amount of money compared to Tate’s overall budget, and that’s why Tate is fighting tooth and nail to stop the figure from being made public.”

Liberate Tate, alongside many other people within the cultural sector, has called on Tate to drop sponsorship from BP because of the company’s appalling record of oil spills, environmental and human rights controversies, and its role in exacerbating climate change.

For more information, contact liberatetate@gmail.com.

Notes for the Editor

1.    Invitation to the performance on the Liberate Tate website


2.    The Information Tribunal Hearing over Tate and BP sponsorship will take place on 18September, 10am at Court 7, Field House, 15 Bream’s Buildings, London, EC4A 1DZ

The challenge over Tate’s refuse to disclose information is being brought by Request Initiative, acting on behalf of Platform.

The March 2014 ruling from the Information Commissioner is available here.

Commentary on the ruling: Time for Tate to stop being so shady over BP sponsorship

3.    Since 2010 Liberate Tate has been carrying out a series of unsolicited performances inside Tate galleries aimed at disrupting the sponsorship relationship between BP and Tate. The performances, which have garnered headlines internationally, have included:

–      ‘Parts Per Million’: 50 people dressed in black with veils performed rising carbon levels using the chronology of the ‘BP Walk through British Art’ in Tate Britain (November 2013)

–      ‘The Gift’: a 16.5 metre, 1.5 tonne wind turbine blade installed in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in an unofficial performance involving over 100 members of Liberate Tate (July 2012).   

–      ‘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 an exhibition that was part of ‘BP British Art Displays’. 

–       ‘License to spill’: an oil spill at the Tate Summer Party ‘celebrating 20 years of BP support’ (June 2010).

–      ‘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.

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