Looking for artwork to make up a BP-free Cultural Olympiad

Submitted by Toadministrator on Sun, 12/11/2011 - 19:14

Art not OilIf you're in a hurry, here's the pitch: BP is sponsoring the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival in the UK. Do you have a creative response to this situation? If so, please contact us here: info@artnotoil.org.uk or 07709 545116. Let us know if you could help illustrate and/or design a leaflet on this issue.

Here's a more detailed explanation ...

BP is sponsoring the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival in the UK; http://www.london2012.com/cultural-olympiad. We'd like all this wonderful creative activity to be allowed to breathe free of the stench of BP, and in a step towards that eventuality, we're setting up a BP-free Cultural Olympiad gallery on our website. For that, we're inviting you to submit artworks which address this mismatch directly, poetically, peripherally, satirically, elegiacally, comically or hysterically. (Or using an adjective of your own choosing.) We'd also like to feature work that looks at the Olympics more generally.

Unless we get a rush of blood to the head, this gallery will only exist
online, featuring two dimensional artworks (ie. images, films and written
word). In return for your labours, we can promise some degree of exposure,
(maybe more than usual, given the media's taste for Olympic stories), a
link to a site where your work is featured, and our undying gratitude. We
apologise for not being able to press any cash into your hand; if it's any
consolation, copyright remains with you always.

We'll be adding to the gallery throughout 2012, but would appreciate
receiving work in the first two months of the year.

There are many good things taking place under the umbrella of the Cultural
Olympiad; this initiative seeks to shed light on its darker side. Since
the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, BP has been hard at work in
an attempt to shore up its reputation (which was already beset with
troubles surrounding safety and ecological destruction). But the Olympics
has presented the company with the perfect platform for some aggressive
rebranding. It might also have presented us with a more positive
opportunity to expose the gulf between the company's rhetoric and its

For quite some time now, campaigns have been afoot to persuade cultural
institutions like the Tate to sever their connections with BP, and Big Oil
more generally, the argument being that their own highly valued brands are
being damaged by proximity to the sticky black stuff. We reckon that oil
companies enjoy undeserved kudos from these relationships, and that they
cultivate them not out of kindness, but as part of a cool, calm strategy
to ensure that public disgust with their activities doesn't impact on
their ability to operate, (in ever deeper Arctic waters it seems.)

So what might the message be to people, be they artists, musicians, poets
etc., who take their creativity into the community, and are out there
often at the sharp end of austere times, (and with funding sources looking
increasingly corporate), quite probably struggling to keep that creativity
at the heart of their daily endeavours? Well, we recommend is that you try
to find time to take a good, hard look at the way fossil fuel-intensive
corporations are operating, and make your own decision as to where you
draw the line when it comes to sponsorship. Many would refuse to work on a
project sponsored by an arms company, but what if the suffering and
(climatic) damage caused by oil companies was even greater?
(Interestingly, there has been talk amongst Indian athletes and beyond of
boycotting London 2012 because of its acceptance of sponsorship from Dow
Chemical, which now owns the company responsible for the Bhopal disaster:

Then there's the question of what action - beyond creating a piece for our
new gallery - to take if you do find a sponsor's activities unacceptable.
Like traditional workplace struggles, where a union can help create a
united front on an issue, perhaps we need to act together on this, in
order to prevent isolation, possible reputation damage or a sense of
futility. Let us know what your take is on all this, and let's hope we can
take some more concerted action that protects not only our livelihoods and
the projects we love, but also a wider worldwide community of humans and
other living beings.

Thanks for reading,

Us at Art Not Oil