On the 21st of November the British Museum in London opened its doors to host an exhibition sponsored by British Petroleum (BP) called, “Troy: myth and reality”. For this reason, BP or not to BP?–an activist organisation with its base in London, will put into effect one of the biggest protest actions that has been carried out in the capital’s famous British Museum.
BP or not to BP? will take advantage of this opportunity to express its discontent towards the petrol industry who use art and culture as a Trojan Horse to mask its activities. The British Museum syndicate recognises that climate change was one of the biggest worldwide problems of our time, yet the museum has continued to support and promote the petrol company.
For this reason, the organisers of the protest will fill the British Museum with people, accessories, costumes and other surprises, including a Trojan Horse, to emphasise the problems created by BP and to expose other injustices, with the objective to bring down the company.
“Our public art institutions shouldn’t be bolstering the power of fossil fuel companies in the middle of a climate crisis”, points out BP or not to BP?
The main objective of the protest is to make an impression on the members of the museum as much as its visitors and in this way, put an end to the relationship with the petrol company and reduce the impact on the climate crisis.
On the other hand, the organisation is also protesting against the refusal to return artefacts held in the museum that come from different parts of the world which were stolen many years before.
But, why are they against BP?
The company plans to spend £41 billion exploiting new sources of petrol in the next ten years, bringing on stream, wells and pipelines that will make it impossible to reach the objective of limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees.., BP has also been working with the Turkish government to construct a Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) through Turkey. The gas pipeline will extend some 75 miles from the ancient site of Troy and will bring fossil fuel from Azerbaijan to Europe.
However, the pipeline hasn’t experienced similar serious protests in its route through Turey, whilst in others it has. BP or no BP? believe that this is due to the repression of protests by the Turkish government.
Nevertheless, in 2003, when Bakú-Ceyhan, the previous BP pipeline, began construction, there was an international campaign organised in conjunction with activists on the ground, to oppose it.
At the beginning of this year, Ahdaf Soueif resigned as legal administrator in the British Museuem, as a protest against BP.
According to the activist organisation, surveys have shown that the majority of British Museum staff and half of all Londoners want to end this sponsorship.
Furthermore, last October, the Royal Shakespeare Company decided to terminate its contract with BP due to the protests that happened because of climate change.
However, the British multi-national continues to sponsor various types of artistic institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Science Museum and the Royal Opera House.
Maybe, after this, the British Museum will be the next on the list to abandon this big global brand.
Translated by Carol M Byrne