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'We’ve snuck a huge Trojan Horse into the British Museum!'

Photo by Hugh Warwick

From our friends at BP or not BP:
https://bp-or-not-bp.org/2020/02/07/breaking-weve-snuck-a-huge-trojan-ho...

A huge Trojan Horse, emblazoned with the logo of British Museum sponsor BP, was snuck into the museum’s courtyard at 7:30 this morning. The wooden horse, which is 4 metres tall and can seat 10 people inside, was crowdfunded and built by ‘actorvist’ theatre group BP or not BP?, and pulled in by a group of supporters with flags reading “BP Must Fall”. They intend to stay in the courtyard – inside the gates but outside the museum building – overnight, in order to welcome those joining the ‘BP Must Fall’ mass action tomorrow, when over 1000 people will descend on the museum for a day of performance and protest.

The arrival of the Horse marks the start of a ‘bold but necessary’ escalation in BP or not BP?’s campaign against BP’s sponsorship of the arts. The huge artwork is a direct response to the museum’s current BP-sponsored ‘Troy’ exhibition, with smoke flowing from its nostrils, glowing red eyes and a disturbing apocalyptic soundscape emerging from a sound system inside. Built from reclaimed timber and discarded rope, the horse is powered by solar-charged batteries and equipped to enable people to stay inside it overnight. It was brought in safely through a museum side-gate early this morning with the activists making clear early on that it posed no risk to the museum or its staff. They handed the museum a letter [1] formally requesting that the horse be allowed to stay in place until tomorrow, and are now in negotiations with security about this. The performers had no inside help from museum staff to get the horse in.

The British Museum is facing increasing pressure over its oil sponsor, as the climate crisis escalates and more and more organisations are severing ties with their fossil fuel funders. Last year the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, National Galleries Scotland and Edinburgh Science Festival all announced they would no longer take money from oil companies in the face of the climate emergency, and last week the Guardian announced it was stopping taking fossil fuel advertising.

BP is under fire for its continued massive extraction of oil and gas, despite the science telling us that in order to avoid total climate breakdown we need to end new drilling, leave fossil fuels in the ground and rapidly transition to clean energy over the next decade. While BP’s new CEO Bernard Looney is making a much-hyped announcement about the company’s future approach to climate change next week, it is unlikely to fundamentally change the fact that the vast majority of BP’s investment (currently 97%) is in oil and gas and it plans to increase its fossil fuel extraction by 20% over the next decade. BP also faces criticism for its human rights record and its support for repressive regimes, including in Turkey, where the company recently completed a controversial gas pipeline just 75 miles from the site of ancient Troy [2].

Helen Glynn, from BP or not BP? said:

‘The Troy exhibition has inspired us to create this magnificent beast, because the Trojan Horse is the perfect metaphor for BP sponsorship. On its surface the sponsorship looks like a generous gift, but inside lurks death and destruction. This is our 40th performance intervention at the British Museum: for eight years our peaceful creative protests have been dismissed and the museum has continued to back BP. Now the planet is literally burning. So we invite everyone to come along to our mass action tomorrow and make sure the museum can no longer ignore the fact that, in order to have a liveable planet, BP Must Fall.’

Keep an eye on @Drop_bp on twitter and the hashtag #BPmustfall for latest updates on the horse.