the greasy palm & the invisible hand

The extent to which public private corporations influence the public sphere is seen nowhere better than funding for the arts. One of the latest rows is over BP’s funding of the Tate Modern. Whether its a dispassionate tax write-off, or an active engagement to control public representation is not entirely clear, though corporate sponsorship will act to keep artistic response within certain parameters. Oil and the environment is a very sticky wicket and oil money and culture are, in their actual context, antithetical to each other.The credibility of the cultural institutions is called into question, and in fact supports the arguments of Theodor Adorno on the nature of “cultural industries” appearing autonomous, but in fact acting in tandem with the larger entertainment and industrial complexes…

---Last Wednesday, April 20, the activist group known as Liberate Tate staged another protest performance at Tate Britain. Set on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf o Mexico over 87 days last year, the group poured an oil-like substance over a naked member of the group who laid motionless in a fetal position in the Single Form exhibition.--- Read More:

“Many important cultural institutions have been the victim of the government’s cuts in arts funding recently,” explained Terry Taylor, one of the members of Liberate Tate. “The fact that many organizations will be actively looking for new funding means that the debate around the ethics of corporate sponsorship is more important than ever. Oil companies like BP are responsible for environmental and social controversy all over the world, and we can’t let their sponsorship of institutions like Tate detract from that fact.” …“By refusing to disclose the extent of its BP sponsorship, Tate is preventing the necessary public debate from taking place,” says Taylor. “It’s time it came clean about just how much dirty oil money is propping up public arts institutions.” Read More:

---Each year, BP donates more than £1million (€1.135 million, US$1.65 million) to the Tate. “With a dignified and deliberate delivery, thick black oil was slowly poured over and around the vulnerable form. Alone on the floor of the vast space, covered in oil, curled up in a fetal position, naked, exposed,” describes the Liberate Tate website of the protest. The Tate Britain action was staged on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.---Read More:

What are you?
What are you becoming
What have you become
Once you sang your own song
Now your dancing to the same drum
What have you become

What is that you’re wearing
Moneys ugly confidence
Sacrifice the poem of your imagination
For these pounds and pence

Me I’ll take the cynics role
Throw scorn on your empty mime
I’ve seen the monotonous world
Make the dull what used to shine
You lost interest, you lost your spine
That’s fine, fine, fine

When there’s nothing left
On this plate you’re handed
You’ll find yourself running the gauntlet
Of all these double standards
It’s very thin ice over which your skating
And after this black winter, the thaw … ( David Gray, What Are You?)


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