An NFT art collection featuring paintings by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be part of this year’s Biennale Arte, an international art exhibition held in Venice. The collection, titled This Can’t Be Erased, is the work of acclaimed Greek artist Miltos Manetas, a longtime friend of the jailed whistleblower.
The NFT Mint, which begins June 23, is made up of 111 tokenized images of the worker, which were featured by Manetus as part of the viral #AssangePower campaign. Funds raised during the sale will be allocated to Pavilion DAO, a newly created pillar of the event’s Internet Pavilion Tech Tent, now in its seventh edition. Interestingly, Manetus was the one who first brought the pavilion to the Venice Biennale in 2009.
art against authoritarianism
According to Miltos Manetus, Julian Assange cuts an almost mythical figure in an age of creeping authoritarianism and digital surveillance. The activist, who has been charged under the US Espionage Act after publishing classified material exposing brutal abuses of power by the US and other governments, is currently appealing the UK Home Secretary’s decision to extradite.
Manetus sees the campaign against Assange as an ideological witch-hunt that betrays the sick hypocrisy at the heart of self-declared liberal democracies. It cannot be erased, aims to make art stand against authoritarianism and censorship, and strikes a deadly blow against those who enjoy a monopoly on our data, information and lives.
By committing her work to the blockchain, the multimedia artist is exercising the right to ‘print’ content that will live on forever – unlike the freedom citizens of Western democracies have long provided.
In all, some 111 NFT artifacts are to be released during three separate mining phases starting on June 23. Animated portrait-tokens will be molded on Materia, a platform dedicated to the contemporary art of NFT. According to its website, Materia welcomes all Internet users who wish to embrace “the poetic idea of the Internet as a new country”, which offers “new rules of citizenship and new ideas of freedom”.
Manateus is no stranger to the activist: in 2009, the artist joined forces with curator Jan Aman and invited members of the controversial activist collective The Pirate Bay to Venice, where they were a panelist of that year’s Internet Pavilion, Piracy. He was about to inaugurate the embassy. ,
The NFTs that make up the latest collection were drawn from 222 Assange portrait manatas produced over the past two years. The numbers were no accident: there is a picture for each day of the Biennale, which runs from 23 April to 27 November after the pre-openings on 20, 21 and 22 April. Manetas has worked with long-term collaborator Howie B on the collection, with the latter each putting a unique piece of music on the NFT.
This year’s Internet Pavilion focuses on the theme of “AIIA: Assange is the Internet Internet is Assange”. Manateus is in the process of delivering every single oil-on-canvas painting of the dissident to raise awareness of his plight.
Meanwhile, Assange awaits his fate and lawyers are working hard to appeal the extradition decision. The UK Home Secretary’s decision to kneel before the US Justice Department has been widely criticized for setting a dangerous precedent and jeopardizing the future of public interest journalism.