On 14th August, performance activists BP or not BP? organised an online interactive event at the British Museum, a mixture of studio hosts, live streaming from the museum, and pre-recorded extras.
Speakers included Onyekachi Wambu from the African Foundation for Development – he is director of the ‘Return The Icons’ project and he introduced a pre-recorded piece from the Africa Gallery about the campaign to repatriate the Benin Bronzes along with human remains of immense cultural significance.
PCS Union Vice-President Zita Holbourne spoke live from the museum drawing parallels between the ongoing institutional racism (mainly black and brown people are given lower pay and conditions as outsourced workers at the museum) and the colonial legacy of pillage and looting that the collections are based on. She also talked about the greenwashing the museum affords to oil giant BP through its meagre sponsorship deals, while the world burns and again the Global South is at the forefront suffering present day effects of climate change.
Musician and activist Hellena sent a message and song from Athens which you can see in the full video, calling for the return of the sculptures looted by Lord Elgin some 200 years ago,which he then sold to the museum.
Iranian visual artist Mona M introduced a film (watch here) cataloguing the history of colonial oil extraction in her country and the part BP played and still plays there.
Several hundred people joined from all around the world, and Real Media later produced an edited version of the entire event using live footage to replace the Zoom streaming from the museum.
FULL EDIT OF THE WHOLE EVENT