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Liberate Tate create a Crude Awakening artwork at Tate Modern

On Tuesday 14th September 2010 Liberate Tate yet again staged an intervention in the Turbine Hall to highlight the Tate's sponsorship by BP. This action comes ahead of the Crude Awakening day of protest on Saturday 16th October.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Crude by Liberate Tate

On Saturday October 16th 2010 a whole host of activists are gearing up to take part in a massive demonstration against the crimes of the oil industry in central London. The Crude Awakening protests come not a moment too soon for all those who have suffered at the hands of BP in the Mexican Gulf, Shell in the Niger Delta, and at the hands of countless other oil companies at countless other places across the globe. And still climate change continues apace: this year alone we’ve also seen devastating floods in Pakistan and dreadful droughts in Russia as the glaciers at our poles continue to break apart.

BP oil paint tate

Our love affair with oil is of course helping to drive not only climate change but climate injustice, and yet we are doing nothing to finish our relationship: oil is such a huge part of our lives and continues to lubricate not only the pockets of the rich but the pockets of our arts institutions.

For this reason Liberate Tate and other activists staged another intervention at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall yesterday – ahead of a Tate Board of Trustees meeting. I was supposed to head down and join them but I’ve been somewhat snowed under since my return from Denmark, and fortunately it was recorded very beautifully without me by Felix of You and I Films. At around 5pm a number of black robed activists walked solemnly into the hall and formed a circle before placing tubes of black oil paint on the floor. Then one by one they created their artwork ‘Crude’ by spraying out a great starburst of black oily paint. It was signed and offered to the Tate Modern for its collection.

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Although the Tate has signed up to the 10:10 campaign the institution clearly takes a very narrow view of how it can become more sustainable at the same time as challenging climate change. At a time when public funding cuts will force the arts into ever tighter corners it ultimately remains supremely important that influential organisations such as the Tate think long and hard about where their money comes from. Demonstrations such as these can only serve to increase awareness of how we fund our arts. Anyone is welcome to get involved with Liberate Tate, and I would also urge you to sign up for updates from the good people behind the Crude Awakening protest. Put Saturday October 16th 2010 in your diary now.

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