'liberate tate' donation to BP-sponsored tateTagged as: bp environmentalism oil tate
more than a hundred people took part in a beautifully co-ordinated action today, to deliver a 'gift to the nation' to tate modern gallery. the giant wind turbine blade was delivered in three parts and lovingly assembled in front of security and the public in the heart of the famous tate modern turbine hall. BP, the controversial sponsor of the museum, has recently announced the closure of its wind energy division.
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having signed up to the info line on the 'liberate tate' website, i received a text this morning to be at st paul's at 11am.
there i found a few dozen people who after a short wait followed three black-veiled figures towards the millenium bridge. joining us along the way were another dozen people who were carrying what looked to be a huge white blade, like the sharpened front end of some canoe boat, clearly quite heavy and several metres long.
when we arrived at tate modern, we went round to the ramp entrance and saw that two other groups had just arrived ahead of us. now there were well over a hundred people, and three giant pieces of sculpture, one of them so large and heavy that it was being wheeled on a large trolley.
tate security guards made some half-hearted attempts to stop access, and for a moment, one of them even lay down in front of the wheels of the trolley, but after some peaceful negotiation and gentle reasoning, they moved to one side, and the 'donation' continued.
at the bottom of the grand turbine hall ramp, it became clearer that the three pieces made up a 35 foot long blade from a wind turbine.
the multi-national oil behemoth, BP, is controversially one of the major sponsors of 'tate modern', and BP has recently announced it is actually closing down its wind energy division, and ramping up its oil exploitation of the arctic, and its highly dangerous and destructive tar-sands projects.
in its communiqué, 'liberate tate' speak of the tate's continuing acceptance of the poisoned 'gift' of funding from BP, despite years of protest and thousands of signatories to petitions. so the campaigning group have decided to donate a new artwork, a "gift to the nation" for consideration. the work has been lovingly restored and prepared over a period of two years after being found disused in a field in mid-wales. it was finally cut into three pieces, transported to london, prepared with moulded wooden fixings for re-assembly, and then in a secret and brilliantly organised action, brought to the museum today.
there, in the middle of the turbine hall, dozens of people held hands in a ring to protect the structure and to look after the safety of the public, while dozens more began the delicate and difficult operation to connect and re-assemble the three mammoth sections. eventually, it was ready, and first the trolley and then mounting blocks were removed, and the blade was carefully lowered to the ground in one piece.
as it landed a huge round of applause rang out, both from participants and also from the general public who were watching from every vantage point. a few police had by now arrived, but after speaking with organisers, decided not to intervene.
as the trolley, and the crowd, made their way to the top of the ramp, there was a brief problem with some police who were trying to collect names and addresses, they claimed because of an alleged assault, but the person who made the allegation could not be found, so it soon became an untenable position, the doors were opened, and everyone left, while tate staff puzzled over what to do with the massive gift.
a little while later, a small group of tate liberators returned to provide official paperwork (including the official donation letter, additional info, a CV of previous works, and a long list of reviews and articles about their previous work). they handed this over to the duty manager and then left.
unfortunately, there were some installation works going on at the tate, so they had access to quite a lot of workmen and equipment, and they very soon got to work dismantling and removing the wind blade. within a couple of hours it appeared outside the front doors, cordoned off and hopefully waiting to be moved to a permament display position (or not).
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