Dienstag, 02.06.2020 16:15 Uhr

The Assange Condition. Forty portraits by Miltos Manetas

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 07.05.2020, 19:33 Uhr
Nachricht/Bericht: +++ Kunst, Kultur und Musik +++ Bericht 4413x gelesen

Rome [ENA] From May 11, 2020, the Sala Fontana of Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome will present an exhibition without admittance of visitors, even in the event that galleries reopen their doors to the public. The exhibition through a series of about forty portraits tells the story of Julian Assange. The paintings have made by the Greek-born painter, conceptual artist and theorist whose work explores the representation

2 days in Prison by Manetas

and aesthetics of the information society Miltos Manetas, between February and April 2020. The Exhibition intends to provide, among the many things that have been said and done in the past two months all over the world, a particular and perhaps paradoxical contribution to reflections on the condition of imprisonment, isolation, and the impossibility of meeting with others. The exhibition is not only a reason to denounce an injustice, or an attempt to draw public attention to the case of someone who has intentionally and continually taken on the responsibility of making secret information public and who nowadays, if he is extradited to the United States, risks the death penalty.

Nor is it simply an exhibition of the work of an artist who has decided to devote his practice to portraying a "difficult" face (in terms of the complexity of the character involved and, as Manetas says, of portraying his expressive features). This is also, and above all, an intervention that captures the analogies between the condition of Julian Assange – in his lengthy imprisonment and isolation, first as a refugee in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and then, after his "kidnapping", in British prisons, being overexposed in the media and, at the same time, reduced to silence – and the condition experienced by billions of inhabitants of the planet in recent weeks.

Palazzo delle Esposizioni, which only a few months ago hosted the "Escape Techniques" exhibition, on strategies of derision and avoidance of censorship in Hungary in the '60s and '70s, accepted Manetas' proposal with great interest and decided to realize it in a most unusual way for an exhibition. In the very same days in which we hope to reopen our major exhibitions dedicated to Jim Dine and Gabriele Basilico, which were unexpectedly interrupted by the Covid-19 emergency, the Museum wishes to dedicate a section of its space to hosting an exhibition that will not, in any case, be open to the public, and will be known about only through communication and documentation.

Palazzo delle Esposizioni decided to do so because it do not want to hide the sense of disquiet and uncertainty that these recent times – with the disorientation of having daily lives bombarded with tables, growth curves, epidemiological explanations, warnings and forecasts – leave in everybody, like a dark zone which it’s impossible to access. The exhibition will be displayed on Palazzo delle Esposizioni’s social media and digital platforms, where it can be fully explored. It will also be linked to the Instagram account @condizioneassange that will launch on May 11, 2020, at 6 pm. “ Yanis Varoufakis and several comrades from Diem25 are in London. Along with Brian Eno, Roger Waters, Vivienne Westwood, Zižek and others, they are

trying to draw media attention to the Assange case. It's not easy; not many people are interested in the condition of a man who has spent the last 8 years "locked up". However, only a few days later, Assange's condition resembles the condition we will all find ourselves living in, something that we could never have imagined... I feel lucky here in Colombia as I'm free to come and go to my studio in the Páramo whenever I feel like it, but I feel that I also have to do something for Assange. I’m reminded of Diogenes who, in the middle of a war, rolled his barrel through the streets, trying to contribute to the common cause of peace. I start to paint a portrait of Assange.

Faces aren’t my strong point, and Assange has a rather difficult physiognomy, but the painting comes out well enough. Then I ask myself: what do I do with this painting? Sending it to my gallery for sale doesn’t seem "politically correct" to me. So I put it on Instagram and see if anyone wants to have it for free... and I immediately receive many requests! I give the portrait to the first person who asked for it, and make a second portrait right away. Same story: I discover that a lot of people want a portrait of Julian Assange. I do a quick search on the Internet. He was kidnapped on April 11, 2019, but his saga began eight years before that, when he was in self-imposed isolation in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – as a precaution, more

or less like us now. In Assange’s case, he was trying to escape the revenge of the U.S. government; but his long quarantine wasn't enough to save him from that "virus". Now he is in mortal danger, and international law – which could save him – is powerless: his detention is in fact illegal, as are his arrest and his possible extradition to the United States, where he risks the death penalty. At first, perhaps, I plunged into this project in order to "help" Assange; now, with the current epidemic, the terms of the matter have changed. The fact remains that I’ve decided to paint a portrait of Assange for every day he spends in prison. And, of course, to give them all away to other people.” – declared Miltos Manetas in a conversation.

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