BP or not BP?

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Ethical curating vs. patronage by “benevolent guardians and gatekeepers”

Anti-BP Protesters Sip Oily Champagne in Satirical Performance at the British Museum
by Jasmine Weber
November 6, 2018

Performers dressed as BP employees sipped oil-contaminated champagne, and protesters displayed facts about BP’s exploitation of Iraqi resources.

Faux BP employees chat nonchalantly before anti-oil protesters (all images by Kristian Buus and courtesy of BP or not BP?)

On November 6, activist theatre group BP or not BP? gathered at the British Museum, just outside of the I am Ashurbanipal: king of the world, king of Assyria exhibition, which opens November 8. The protest actors dressed as corporate BP employees and were accompanied by additional protesters. The action occurred in parallel to the exhibition’s private viewing for journalists.

The British Museum’s latest exhibition of ancient Assyrian objects from Iraq provided the perfect platform for BP or not BP?’s 33rd performance within the museum, where they chanted slogans like, “British Museum, we’ll keep coming back, no BP logos on your stolen artifacts!” (Just last week, the sale of an Assyrian relief at Christie’s raised similar concerns about the pillaging of Iraqi artifacts.)

BP was the primary sponsor of the British Museum’s Assyria exhibition but provides less than 0.5% of the British Museum’s annual income, which they say can be easily replaced by newfound, ethical donors.

“The British Museum is facilitating the whitewashing of BP’s actions in Iraq by allowing the company to sponsor of an exhibition that presents it as a benevolent guardian and gatekeeper of Iraqi heritage,” the group said in a press release.

Performers dressed as BP staff sipped oil-tainted champagne as a satirical protest of the fuel giant’s misconduct in Iraq and exploitation of the nation’s natural resources, urging the British Museum to end its partnership with the company.

Read the rest of this article here.