Site-Specific Protest: Liberate Tate’s Performances At Tate Modern



This paper analyzes the site-specific performances of Liberate Tate, an artist collective that staged protest works at Tate institutions to protest the sponsorship deal with the multinational corporation BP. Arguing that the aesthetic, spatial, political, social, and ecological components of Liberate Tate’s works at Tate Modern are intricately enmeshed, the paper offers a close visual analysis of the performances in relation to one of their sites, Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Doing so, the paper demonstrates how the artist collective reacted to the socio-political structuring of the physical space in their own political mode of aesthetics. The site-specific works of the group attend to and confront the museum space to such an extent that the intervened space presiding over the performative acts, bodies, and props becomes Liberate Tate’s principal medium in their performances. Through their horizontal arrangement mode, choice of messy, dirty, and viscous materials, and approach to nature, culture, and history as inseparable concepts, Liberate Tate’s site-specific performances challenge the hegemonic neoliberal rhetoric of Tate Modern. The contrasts and conflicts Liberate Tate introduces against the visual discourse of Turbine Hall not only reveals the dominant political, financial, and social order of the space but also transforms the museum albeit temporarily into a truly public space of democracy.


Key words: site-specific art, activist art, institutional critique, museum space, Liberate Tate

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