Opinions about Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, diverge widely. For some, he is a hero who has played a major role in helping us understand how the world was taken hostage by a global surveillance industry. For others, he is a spy, a specialist of disinformation, and a criminal who destabilized the U.S. on behalf of foreign powers, leaking secret information to the enemies of Western civilization and endangering countless lives in the process.
For the Greek artist Miltos Manetas, in addition to any political, libertarian and philosophical considerations, Assange is first and foremost a trigger for art. For each day Assange spends in detention, he produces an artwork -- a painting, a drawing or a collage -- and posts it to his private Facebook and Instagram profiles. The works are mostly portraits of Assange himself, and whoever is the first to respond is allowed to keep the artwork. Manetas’ initiative keeps Assange’s personal fate and his significance for the global discussion about justice, freedom and enlightenment alive and constantly present for his audience. The artist deliberately provokes personal interactions with the new owners of his works as part of his artistic process.
For the exhibition ASSANGE SITUATION – EMERGENCY at IKOB – Museum for Contemporary Art, Manetas has produced 30 new paintings. Every day, any visitor who wants to keep one of the works can take it home immediately, on a first come, first serve basis. The last remaining painting, 430 days in prison (2020) will enter the IKOB‘s collection when the exhibition ends. The exhibition thereby becomes smaller with each day until it disappears completely, drawing attention to the dwindling of a public discussion surrounding Assange. At the same time, Assange's public image, and with it his ongoing story, shifts into the private space of the people who, for a variety of reasons, have decided to take one of the artworks home. ASSANGE SITUATION – EMERGENCY posits art as a vehicle for discussion and a powerful trigger for a commitment to human rights, freedom of the press, and democracy.
The new owners of Manetas’ works are asked to photograph them in their new environment and share an image on Facebook or Instagram. Milton Manetas then holds a Zoom discussion with each of them, to discuss the work and the themes of his practice. With this exhibition, IKOB - Museum of Contemporary Art aims to fulfill its mission as an instigator of discussion, made especially urgent during a period that strongly challenges our democratic conception of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

More information about the project can be found at:
Miltos Manetas Instagram
Condizione Assange Instagram


Exhibition view, Miltos Manetas, ASSANGE SITUATION - EMERGENCY, © IKOB - Museum of Contemporary Art, Photo: Ludovic Beillard