Saturday, 30 July 2011


Promoting creative processes of democratic engagement to advance social and ecological justice

PLATFORM works across disciplines for social and ecological justice. It combines the transformatory power of art with the tangible goals of campaigning, the rigour of in-depth research with the vision to promote alternative futures.
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Coming soon - the 'Tate a Tate' audio tour

Earlier this year, working alongside Liberate Tate and Art Not Oil, we made a call out to commission a sound artist to create an 'alternate Tate audio tour' - a work of site-specific sound art that would be themed around the issue of BP sponsorship of Tate. We were overwhelmed with almost 40 responses, and in the final shortlist, the quality of the ideas was so high, that we ended up choosing three of them instead of just one. The idea now is that the tour won't be restricted to just one gallery space - the three pieces will correspond to Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the riverboat journey in between the two of them.

The artists that are working on the different pieces are:

• Ansuman Biswas (Tate Britain)
• Phil England and Jim Welton (Tate Modern)
• Isa Suarez, Mark McGowan and Mae Martin (Tate riverboat)

The tour is going to be launched in Autumn. We don't want to give away too much about the content, but all three pieces are shaping up to be very distinctive, and we're hoping that this unsanctioned sound installation inside Tate galleries will provide visitors with a new experience of the presence of BP within those spaces. Now is a good time to once again thank the many people who contributed to our crowd-funding drive that has made this project possible - it's as much about the vote of confidence in the aims of the project as it is about the money.

This work comes at a time when BP is ramping up the promotion of its sponsorship activities in the run-up to the Olympics. Its first major TV ad campaign focused almost exclusively on its cultural and sports sponsorship and said pretty much nothing at all about its primary product. In the adverts sportspeople are seen in museums and in one case a runner is filmed on a pristine beach. BP’s sponsorship of arts institutions like Tate is clearly not an act of philanthropy, it’s a very cheap piece of PR to detract attention away from the devastating impacts its causing around the world.

For those who may have missed it, don't forget to check out the amazing video of Reverend Billy and the Church of Earthalujah performing an exorcism of BP from Tate Modern Turbine Hall. We knew it would be entertaining, but I think everyone was surprised by how it was also very moving and powerful.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Tate announces partnership with Vodafone

25 July, 2011
by: Spoonfed Arts Team

Tate announces latest corporate partner...

Tate Modern

Another week, another announcement of a big corporate tie-in from Tate. The second week of July saw London's most famous art institution team up with a Nigerian bank and now they've just announced a new partnership with everyone's favourite phone provider, Vodafone.

The partnerhsip will launch on Thursday with the catchily named Tate Debates, a weekly online discussion on the Tate blog. Over the course of 2011 Vodafone will also be working in support of Tate's various “digital activities”.

Now, we hate to make predictions about such things, but this looks like it's asking for trouble. Vodafone have been in the news a lot recently for allegedly not paying a £6 billion tax bill, and being let off by Dave Hartnett, the big boss man at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, despite, according to Private Eye, advice to the contrary from HMRC's own lawyers. This has provoked outrage, with UK Uncut protestors staging sit-ins in various Vodafone stores across the country.

In recent times Tate itself has been extensively criticised for its ongoing relationship with BP, by the likes of No Logo author Naomi Klein, corgi-eating performance artist Mark McGowan and musician/artist/polymath Billy Childish, whilst Tate Modern has played host to its fair share of demonstrations from various anti-BP protestors. It's therefore safe to say that people care deeply about where Tate take their money from and we suspect the Vodafone tie-in is not going to be a popular one. UK Uncut are probably plotting their next move already.


The Exorcism of Tate Modern, Caffeinated at 40,000 ft.
by Reverend Billy Talen on Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 10:40am

We wrote “Excorcise BP from the Tate Modern” in our press release. We used the phrase easily, and people took it and ran with it. “Drive out the Devils.” “Exorcising the Taint from Tate” and so on. Everybody had their own slant. But all of us were glibly plugging in a basic ritual from old priesthoods, going back through Jesus to the first nations.

Exorcism - the act of driving out a dark spirit that has possessed a person or a place, by commanding it to leave in the name of a more powerful power, in our case the life of the Earth - this is one of the oldest of our human rituals. However, exorcisms are also embedded in the arts of our culture like little noticed but powerful micro-climates.

I’m listening to Muddy Waters sing “I'm Your Hootchie Cootchie Man” on one of those audio feeds in the British Airways 767. Atlantic Ocean in the windows. Muddy Waters makes me want to go on to Howlin’ Wolf. That’s one tributary of magic - up from New Orleans. By the time they were throwing sticks in Chicago in the 50’s – what had the African ritual become? Well, a sexualized parody, but in the funny threat there is something dark and focused. Waters says, “I’m gonna mess with you.” That makes me want to continue on to Little Richard, the medicine man with multiple genders, the radical faerie exploding with incantations, the Tutti Fruttis and Good Gollies ringing out across puritan America.

We want to find a new kind of power to use against the destroyers of life, the coal companies and the Pentagon, the marketers setting the bait for babies, and the Wall Streeters with their damaging false prosperity. Our protests that look like parodies of 60’s marches – and I’ve served my country in a hundred of ‘em! - that’s a form of dissent that has “lost its magic.” The on-line petitions, the “encourage your congressperson!”, - well that’s a pale imitation of the magic of democracy. Democracy as actual magic? Example: When Abraham Lincoln gave his Malice Toward None speech and Frederick Douglas followed him into the White House with his analysis of it. That political speech is artful magic.

Tim DeChristopher out-bidding the oil companies for pristine southern Utah. THAT was magic. He called the auctioneers on their theatre, and taught us all how naked the Emperor had become. His hex-prayer was to just recite higher and higher numbers of imaginary wealth. Tim declared that he was the richest man in the room. He imitated their empty power ritual – and then became powerful himself. His jail time will have its magic too, and we will walk in the land he saved from George Bush’s friends while we wait for him and he waits for us. What Tim did – you could call it art, or politics, or law, or medicine – all of those words and none of them. The Earth spoke through him and re-united all those old categories. The feds want to keep it legal, but his power is deeper than that.

Whole sections of our culture have slid into a kind of provincialism, because they aren’t singing about, poeming about, painting about – the Earth’s crisis. You can’t be hip ignoring life itself. The wasteland of the arts is a painful thing for those of us who grew up in that world. Now serious actual magic – even just the possibility of it - is forgotten. What we have now is technique and careerism. Broadway has become the provinces. It is not primary culture. Whole theatre seasons go by without life of the Earth in the storyline of any play, at a time when the physical life of the Earth is in the throes of dramatic pain.

But the incredible six-months long Miro exhibit at the Tate Modern – with BP money backing it? Here we have the destruction of meaning. If the Director of the Tate meets you at a cocktail party and says, “Well mobsters have been financing the arts since the Medicis.” You tell that guy to look in the window. The Thames is an oceanic estuary which at high tide is about 4 feet below the edge of the Tate’s lawn. The Tate has actually hung a climate change exhibit, paid for by fossil fuels money, while the Thames rises in the window. Doesn’t that being-possessed-by-dark-spirits-is-the-real-world-honey cycle need to be broken by some high-velocity mockery?

Beauty wants to begin again. We climate change resisters need to go back to when communicating wasn’t separate from life. Miro has much in his work that is from the Earth, bio-morphic shapes, as if he knows where life comes from. He is at home with the comedy of fundamental particles. He could be painting at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, that is, before the dark spirits of British Petroleum changed the picture.


If you got to the end of this long writing – will you suggest some authors who are looking into these kinds of questions? Caffeinated at 40,000 ft. I fell like I opened a doorway


Saturday, 16 July 2011


Come on down! Reverend Billy,well known for performing excorcisms in Tesco's and suchlike,lays hands on TateModern: casting out demon of #BP’s oil sponsorship monday @5.30 : Revernd Billy has recently performed at Granby Street Toxteth Liverpool8 to help save houses from being demolished and at this years 'Latitude Festival' in Suffolk. Watch more episodes & subscribe: Sign up for our e-bulletin: What is The Church of Earthalujah?