Tate Modern - Drilling the Dirt ("a temporary difficulty") by platformlondon

The Tate Modern tour relies on pressing 'pause' in between sections of the tour. Some MP3 players do not give you the option of pressing pause, and if so, we recommend that you download this tour as 10 separate tracks rather than one big file.

Drilling the Dirt

(‘A Temporary Difficulty’)


Artists: Phil England and Jim Welton
Location: Tate Modern
Instructions: Familiarise yourself with the pause button on your phone or MP3 player using another piece of audio before you start the tour. Switch on the guide as you go through the doors of the Tate Modern on the side-entrance that slopes downwards into the Turbine Hall.

Phil England and Jim Welton have produced their own Tate Modern Audio Tour thereby subverting the widely used exhibition technology that facilitates communication of information about an artwork to museum visitors. The title is a reference to Sir Nicholas Serota’s comment about BP when he said “We all recognise they have a difficulty at the moment but you don’t abandon your friends because they have what we consider to be a temporary difficulty.”

The beauty of this interactive piece is that it navigates the listener through the museum but changes the context in which the exhibits are viewed. Starting at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall you are guided to specific art works in Tate’s collection that are now bathed in a completely new light.  The paratexts in this alternative audio guide are designed to open up the very debate that Tate would rather not have about its relationship to BP.


Phil England co-founded the arts radio station Resonance FM in 1998. Between 2003-2009 he produced over 50 hours of radio about climate change for Resonance FM and numerous other community radio stations around the globe (www.climateradio.org). As an environmental and human rights journalist he has written for The Independent, Variant, New Internationalist and The Ecologist.

Jim Welton is the subject of a documentary by Luke Fowler entitled, "The Way Out". He has been commissioned by Austrian national radio ORF's Kunstradio and Dutch National Radio and he was artist in residence at the Deep Wireless Festival in Toronto in 2007. The Burns Museum and the Science Museum have engaged him as a sound designer and for a five-year period he produced a weekly half hour show for Resonance FM entitled The Harmon E Phraisyar Show.


Featuring the voices of:

Bob Dudley, CEO BP
Reverand Billy & The Church of Earthalujah! *
Kierán Suckling, Founder and Executive Director, Center for Biodiversity *
Amanda Sandford, Research Manager, ASH *
James Marriott, Platform *
Clayton Thomas-Muller, Campaign Organiser, Indigenous Environmental Network **
Antonia Juhasz, Energy Programme Director, Global Exchange, author of "Black Tide" **
Jane Trowell, Platform *
Josephine Borradaile, voice artist *
Stephen Kinzer, New York Times reporter, author of "All The Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror"
Nasrollah Entezam, Iranian Ambassador to Washington 1950-2
Gregg Muttitt, Campaigns and Policy Director at War on Want, author "Fuel on the Fire: oil and politics in occupied Iraq" *
US military staff involved in the unprovoked killing of more than a dozen people including two Reuters journalists
Mayis Gulaliyev, Chair, Green Party, Azerbaijan *
Harold Elletson, former MP, former political advisor to BP, MI6 operative
Tracy Kuhns, Executive Director, Louisiana Bayoukeeper **
Barack Obama, President, United States
Carl-Heinric Svanberg, Chair, BP
James Hansen, Director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adjunct Professor of Earth Sciences at Columbia University's Earth Institute
Milton Friedman, architect of neoliberalism
Leonhard H. Fischer, CEO, Credit Suisse
Ben Ayliffe, Oil Campaigner, Greenpeace *
Melina Laboucan Massimo, Lubicon Cree First Nation Tar Sands Campaigner **
Jeremy Leggett, founder and chair of Solar Century and Solar Aid *
Raoul Martinez, portrait artist, documentary maker *
Listed in order of their appearance.

* Recorded specifically for this project
** Recorded by Platform
Thanks also to Mika-Minio Paluello, Omar Robert Hamilton & Conrad Atkinson.