Earlier this year, working alongside Liberate Tate and Art Not Oil, we made a call out to commission a sound artist to create an ‘alternate Tate audio tour’ – a work of site-specific sound art that would be themed around the issue of BP sponsorship of Tate. We were overwhelmed with almost 40 responses, and in the final shortlist, the quality of the ideas was so high, that we ended up choosing three of them instead of just one. The idea now is that the tour won’t be restricted to just one gallery space – the three pieces will correspond to Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the riverboat journey in between the two of them.
The artists that are working on the different pieces are:
The tour is going to be launched in Autumn. We don’t want to give away too much about the content, but all three pieces are shaping up to be very distinctive, and we’re hoping that this unsanctioned sound installation inside Tate galleries will provide visitors with a new experience of the presence of BP within those spaces. Now is a good time to once again thank the many people who contributed to our crowd-funding drive that has made this project possible – it’s as much about the vote of confidence in the aims of the project as it is about the money.
This work comes at a time when BP is ramping up the promotion of its sponsorship activities in the run-up to the Olympics. Its first major TV ad campaign (see below) focused almost exclusively on its cultural and sports sponsorship and said pretty much nothing at all about its primary product. In the adverts sportspeople are seen in museums and in one case a runner is filmed on a pristine beach. BP’s sponsorship of arts institutions like Tate is clearly not an act of philanthropy, it’s a very cheap piece of PR to detract attention away from the devastating impacts its causing around the world.
For those who may have missed it, don’t forget to check out the amazing video of Reverend Billy and the Church of Earthalujah performing an exorcism of BP from Tate Modern Turbine Hall. We knew it would be entertaining, but I think everyone was surprised by how it was also very moving and powerful.