Arts and Entertainment

BP or not BP: Activists occupy the British Museum

Protester’s spell ‘BP Must Fall’ outside of the museum. Image: Zoë MacLeod

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:

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.

Activists built a 13-foot horse covered in anti-BP logos and flags. Image: Zoë MacLeod

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 scene outside the British Museum. Image: Zoë MacLeod

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.

Protester dressed as an Ancient Greek soldier with a BP shield. Image: Zoë MacLeod

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.

British Museum protest. Image: Zoë MacLeod

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.

Costume performance as protest outside the British Museum. Image: Zoë MacLeod.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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