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Rev Billy Exorcises Demons Tonight

The American performance artist takes on Big Oil at the Tate Modern

Written by . Published on July 18th 2011.


Rev Billy Exorcises Demons Tonight

AN American performance group, British artists, activists and art lovers are planning to exorcise the demons of a London gallery's relationship with a major oil company.

The group, known as Reverend Billy and the Church of Earthalujah choir, along with other supporters, will gather in the Tate Turbine Hall to lay hands on Tate Modern and cast out the evil spirit of BP's oil sponsorship of the art institution. 

Reverend Billy said, "For twenty long years, BP has embedded its foulness deep within Tate, using the fair face of the arts to mask the stench of its true nature. Today, the possession of this dark beast lurking within the bosom of one of our most cherished arts institutions is coming to an end."

He added, "While good-hearted, god-fearing, gallery-goers glory in the miracle of art, the beast below is encircling the planet with its oily tentacles, destroying righteous communities, poisoning God’s beauteous creations, and bringing us all ever closer to the climate apocalypse. Art will soon be free of big oil interests. Eviction has begun. Brothers and sisters, it's time to liberate the Tate!"   

Tate and other public cultural institutions have seen longstanding public concern about their relations with oil companies. The numbers of artists involved have grown over recent years with many hundreds of artists publicly demanding that the Tate ends its links with BP and holding guerilla art performances in Tate galleries.

Chris Sands, a participant in the performance said, "When Tate takes money from the fossil fuel industry it is endorsing climate change rather than backing activity which moves us away from an environmental crisis that is already destroying lives and livelihoods. We have to ensure our public arts institutions are financed responsibly, transparently and ethically for the good of the art world and the planet." 

BP continues to use its arts sponsorship to project a public image at odds with its operations and lobbying. As part of a multi-million pound effort to create a social license to operate, the company has launched its first television advertising campaign since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill which centres on its arts, culture and sports sponsorship in an attempt to alter public perception about the company.  

The event is on tonight (July 18) from 5.30pm and is brought to Tate by the UK-based groups Liberate TateUK Tar Sands Network, London Rising Tide, Art Not Oil and Climate Rush, all of which have staged multiple performance interventions and protests at Tate as part of a growing movement to rid public arts institutions from oil companies with negative social and environmental impacts around the world.

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