“It’s atrocious that BP can try to cover themselves up by investing in art”, said one of the many Extinction Rebellion activists that organized a demonstration at the National Portrait Gallery on 20 October against BP. The global environmental movement has staged another protest performance, this time in one of the most important museums in London.
The ‘Crude Truth‘ performance saw the participants lying in a room full of paintings, covered only with crude oil. The reason that led to the staging of this significant act, lies in the attempt to raise awareness about the BP Portrait Award.
In fact, it is a prize that celebrates the best of contemporary portraiture, with the mission of encouraging artists to concentrate and develop portraiture in their works. Over the years, it has attracted over 40,000 entries from over 100 countries and its importance is rapidly increasing.
Moreover, there is a drawback that affect this prize: it is financed by BP, a British multinational oil and gas company. As a matter of fact, BP is 6th on the list of top 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions.
It is one of the many multinationals which contributed to the sufferings of those people from the Global South affected by the loss of biodiversity and effect on the planets climate and ecological crisis. Among them, indigenous communities in Argentina, West Papua, and Canada.
As Eden, one of the young activists, recited: “Who will there be left to see, who will there be left to paint, if we have no earth and no people?We cannot be artists on a dead planet. Oil means the end, but art means the beginning.”