What are they building in there?

Emma Hughes writes about the mysterious piece of art activism happening this weekend

July 5, 2012
2 min read


Emma Hughes is a member of Red Pepper's editorial collective. She also works as a campaigner with environmental justice organisation Platform.


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The art activist collective Liberate Tate is asking people to join them for a mysterious event in London this Saturday (7th July).

Liberate Tate aims ‘to free art from the grips of the oil industry’. They focus on BP’s sponsorship of the Tate arguing that the oil company’s sponsorship of this cultural institution is key in providing it with a ‘social license to operate’. In Summer 2010 Tate provided a forceful demonstration of this. As oil was still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s Deepwater Horizon, Tate held its annual Summer Party which celebrated twenty years of BP sponsorship. Liberate Tate also turned up creating their own tribute to BP in the form of an artistic ‘oil’ spill.

BP’s sponsorship of the arts has been attracting increasing controversy over the last few weeks as the ‘Reclaim Shakespeare Company‘have taken over stages to highlight BP’s sponsorship of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Liberate Tate’s past performances have featured black veils, helium balloons bearing dead fish and a naked person covered in ‘oil’ but Saturday’s event promises to be bigger than anything seen before. To add to the intrigue they’ve created this Tom Waits inspired video. What indeed are they building? If you want to find out add a mobile phone number here to find out the location and wait for the fun to begin on Saturday!


Emma Hughes is a member of Red Pepper's editorial collective. She also works as a campaigner with environmental justice organisation Platform.