In 2011, life artist Revered Billy performed one of his most famous works in the lobby of the Tate Modern, a contemporary art museum in England. In this particular performance art piece, revered Billy, along with a gospel choir, acted out a symbolic “exorcism” on the BP company Reverend Billy shouted religiously toned chants, condemning the BP oil company to hell and labeling the company as the devil itself. A crowd of photographers and onlookers followed the Revered and his choir to a wall displaying the logos and slogans of the British Petroleum company, and the piece then ends with Reverend Billy pushing his oil cover body onto the wall of insignias, covering it in black tar while moaning as if an evil force was leaving his body.
By equating BP to the devil, and performing an exorcism on its evil, the Reverend creates an artistic manifestation of detrimental environmental perpetration – creating a platform for which he can begin a dialogue on what is good and what is evil and how we see corporations in the public sphere.
By enacting out this ritual, he successfully brings light to key environmental issues, The Yes Men, a two-man group composed of performance artists and satirical comics Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, share many common ideologies with Reverend Billy. They too use performance art as a platform to critique the actions of major corporations and their detrimental effects on the environment The Yes Men often fool the public and corporate sphere by posing as respondents for major corporations such as WTO, McDonald’s, and Dow Chemical in order to bring light to the broken ethics and environmental morality of the greedy rich and capitalist economy.
They do so through feature length films and public performance art, this performance acts as a very formative structural process in the creation of environmental satire.