Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who is in jail, is the subject of a new NFT collection at this year’s Venice Biennale art show. The Greek artist Miltos Manetas and the well-known British composer Howie B. worked together on “This Cannot Be Erased”
Assange, who is currently fighting extradition to the United States, is not involved in the project, but he is said to be aware of it. Manetas, whose work has long looked at the digital landscape, is a long-time friend of the activist.
The collection will come out in three parts, each with 37 tokens. Each NFT is a unique oil-on-canvas painting of Assange made by Manetas. The works show Assange’s face breaking up and coming back together again and again, never going away.
Miltos Manetas is a well-known conceptual artist who has been to the Venice Biennale before. In fact, he started the Biennale’s Internet Pavilion in 2009, which is where his latest work is being shown.
This year, the Pavilion, which is in its seventh year, is all about Julian Assange. In May, Manetas and Lightbox Director Mara Sartore opened “AIIA – Assange is Internet, Internet is Assange,” an exhibition of 222 hand-painted portraits of the journalist made by Manetas as part of the #AssangePower movement. The 59th Venice Biennale will take place from April 23 to November 27, 2022.
This Cannot Be Erased is part of the NFT collection, so it lives both inside and outside of the Internet Pavilion at the exhibition. Even though the series is part of the AIIA event, the tokens will live in the web3 wallets of the people who buy them. The collection’s 111 works of art will be printed on Materia, a multi-chain NFT platform made by art experts and blockchain experts.
The people who buy the limited-edition Assange NFTs will become Trustees of AIIA, and the money from the sale will go to the Internet Pavilion DAO. Basically, this model will give members the chance to have a say in how the Pavilion gives money to art projects in the future, with a focus on supporting work that has to do with internet freedom.
Manetas says that his goal is to make sure that people don’t forget about Assange’s situation, which is a real possibility since many major news outlets have stopped covering the case. Since they live forever on the public blockchain, NFTs are harder to get rid of. Assange is a hero to Manetas on the internet because he showed the problems with liberal democracies. Because of this, he got in trouble with the people in power who want to shut down dissent and crush their political opponents.
Manetas started painting Assange while he was locked up in Colombia during Covid in 2020. His plan was to make a new painting for every day that Assange was in jail. In the end, 222 portraits were made to represent the 222 days of the Venice Biennale, and Materia was used to make half of them.
Before, the artist had shows called “Assange’s Condition” at Rome’s Palazzo delle Esposizioni in 2020 and “Assange Situation” at Belgium’s IKOB Museum a year later to support Assange’s cause. Manetas also put the dissident in touch with crypto artist Pak, whose collection Censored raised $54 million for the dissident’s legal fund earlier this year.