Environmental activist group protest BP’s sponsorship of exhibition at the British Museum
This past weekend the environmental performance group, BP or not BP, protested the British Museum’s exhibition, Troy: myth and reality.
The demonstration dubbed ‘BP must fall’ is against the show’s current sponsorship by the oil giant in the name of environmentalism and anti-colonialism.
They lay out their manifesto on their twitter account:
“For the @britishmuseum to decarbonise, it must also decolonise. #BPMustFall.” | Check out this update about the reasons and values behind our performance protest on the 8th February! 👇 https://t.co/LiIsO1o9Eb #Troy #ArcticExhibition #MuseumsAreNotNeutral
— BP or not BP? (@drop_BP) January 29, 2020
The group, BP or not BP, have successfully protested at other events and ended BP sponsorships with groups such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Tate.
The group is part of the larger cause ‘Art Not Oil.’
The protesters built a 13-foot Trojan horse outside the British Museum building.
In a letter to the museum, the protesters explained their reason for using the horse structure.
The Trojan Horse is the perfect metaphor for your BP sponsorship deal… On its surface, the sponsorship might appear to be a generous gift, but inside lurks death and destruction.
The group also aims to bring attention to ‘Art Washing’, when large companies sponsor cultural events to give themselves a better image.
The horse itself was solar powered which gave it red glowing eyes, smoke coming from the nose, and ominous audio booming out.
The horse was also equipped for people to stay in it overnight so that it could not be removed.
Other members of the group dressed as ancient Greek soldiers and gods.
1,500 people attended the protest, which included a sit-in within the museum.
Reporter Hailey Choi interviewed protesters and civilians at the scene:
A performance group wearing black robes with ghostly white faces also attended the protest.
The group silently walked through the museum and this served as a distraction to museum visitors who had gone there to see the scheduled and standing exhibitions.
The group appeared to be similar to the Red Brigade who take part in Extinction Rebellion protests.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union’s culture department, which represents 4,000 people working in different art venues, argue that the British Museum must cut ties with oil company amid climate crisis.
We are so grateful to @britishmuseum frontline staff, @PCSCultureGroup and @asoueif for this amazing intervention. Time for museum bosses to listen to and respect the workers. We join their call for #fairpay and #endoutsourcing. #BPMustFall https://t.co/Q38Crcgju0
— BP or not BP? (@drop_BP) February 11, 2020
However, the director of the museum, Hartwig Fisher, says:
Without external support and sponsorship this would not be possible. Removing this opportunity from the public is not a contribution to solving the climate crisis.
There is so far no evidence that the strike has had any impact in ending BP’s sponsorship of the exhibition.
The group intends to continue protesting against BP and their sponsorship of art institutions.
Their goal as expressed in their Twitter bio is:
We cometh to rescue cultural institutions from the slings and arrows of outrageous oil sponsorship. Reclaimed the Bard from BP.
Reporting by Hailey Choi and Zoë MacLeod.