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The Guerrilla Girls visit London


The Guerrilla Girls visit the Tate, set up Complaint Department, no BPThe Guerrilla Girls set up a Complaints Department in the Tate’s new Switch House building.

On 8 October the art collective Liberate Tate along with The Guerrilla Girls challenged the Tate art galleries to never again partner with any fossil fuel company once its controversial relationship with BP ends in early 2017.

Liberate Tate, who have carried out a six year long series of unsanctioned art interventions in diverse Tate galleries over BP sponsorship, issued the challenge at Tate Modern from the Guerilla Girls’ Complaints Department in the new Switch House building.

The Guerrilla Girls are a group of female artists, writers, performers and arts professionals whose aim is to fight discrimination with humour, activism and art.

As feminist masked avengers in the tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Wonder Woman and Batman, The Guerrilla Girls expose sexism, racism and corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture.

They are also the authors of stickers, billboards, many, many posters and street projects, and of several books including The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art and Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Guide to Female Stereotypes.

Part of Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign in the UK, they brainstorm with Greenpeace.

The Tate has The Guerrilla Girls’ Code of Ethics For Art Museums in its collection.

In the installation on 8 October individuals and organisations were invited to post complaints about art, politics, the environment or other issues they care about.

And the Tate was called upon to make the Fossil Funds Free commitment: a promise to not take any oil, coal, or gas corporate sponsorship.

For more on the Complaints Department at the Tate click here.

BP sponsorship of the Tate lasted just over 26 years. In February 2017 BP will be gone from the Tate with the end of the present contract.

Already hundreds of institutions and artists, including some exhibited at the Tate, have signed up to be Fossil Funds Free.

In July 2017 former BP CEO John Browne leaves as Tate’s Board Chair.

Liberate Tate are calling for the incoming Chair to have no ties to fossil fuels extraction so that the Tate’s damaged reputation with artists and the climate-conscious public can be repaired after the poor judgements of the past, and the galleries can be part of the climate solution not part of the problem.

The commitment is being coordinated by Platform London, who were also at the Tate on 8 October.

Glen Tarman, of Liberate Tate, said: “In kicking BP out of Tate, the movement for fossil free culture has achieved something that appeared impossible.

“We are now calling on [the] Tate to commit to not get into bed with a climate changing company ever again – to be ‘Fossil Funds Free’ for good.”

Artists, Tate visitors and art lovers everywhere are invited to join in and press the Tate to add oil companies to tobacco and arms manufacturers as companies never to be associated with.

“If you agree that cultural institutions should not take sponsorship from oil companies in a time of climate change, make sure Tate and other museums you care about are part of a cultural world going fossil free for ever,” Tarman said.

On their present trip to London The Guerrilla Girls have one message on sponsorship and art museums promoting the oil industry. They said: “It’s time to get out!

“In an early poster of ours called The Code of Ethics for Art Museums, one of the commandments was: thou shalt not permit corporations to launder their image by funding exhibitions at major museums, until they cleaneth up their toxic waste dumps and oil slicks.

“That was back in 1990, so we stated that problem early, and we stand by it.”

Platform campaigner Anna Galkina said: “Sponsorship masks BP’s role in destroying indigenous lands, arming dictatorships and wrecking our climate.

“That’s why artists and art organisations are going Fossil Funds Free. [By] becoming free of BP, Tate can take this next step. We invite others across the world to join.”

The Fossil Funds Free commitment has so far been made by 400 artists, performers, and cultural organisations from around the world. They refuse to let their work be used to justify and promote dangerous fossil fuel extraction.

To see the full list of signatories and for information on Fossil Funds Free click here.

By creating an oil-free cultural sector, this movement aims to enable the transition to a liveable future without fossil fuels.

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