Assange-themed NFT collection debuts as part of Biennale Arte 2022
An NFT art collection featuring portraits of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be part of this year’s Biennale Arte, the international art exhibition held in Venice. The collection, called This Cannot Be Erased, is the work of renowned Greek artist Miltos Manetas, a longtime friend of the imprisoned whistleblower.
The NFT coin, which starts on June 23, consists of 111 tokenized portraits of the activist that Manetas painted as part of the viral #AssangePower campaign. Funds raised during the sale will be allocated to Pavilion DAO, a newly created pillar in the event’s Internet Pavilion technology tent now in its seventh edition. Interestingly, Manetas was the first to bring the pavilion to the Venice Biennale in 2009.
Art against authoritarianism
According to Miltos Manetas, Julian Assange cuts an almost mythological figure in a time of insidious authoritarianism and digital surveillance. The activist, who is charged under US espionage law after publishing classified material exposing brutal abuses of power by the United States and other governments, is currently appealing an extradition decision from Britain’s Home Secretary.
Manetas views the campaign against Assange as an ideological witch hunt that betrays the nauseating hypocrisy at the heart of self-proclaimed liberal democracies. This can not be erased aims to set art against authoritarianism and censorship, and to strike a fatal blow at those who have a monopoly on our data, information and lives.
By committing his work to the blockchain, the multimedia artist exercises the right to “print out” material that will live forever – in contrast to the freedoms that the citizens of Western democracies have long taken for granted.
In total, around 111 NFT works of art will be published during three separate embossing phases beginning on 23 June. The animated portrait tokens will be embossed on Materia, a platform dedicated to NFTs for contemporary art. According to their website, Materia welcomes all Internet users who want to adopt “the poetic idea of the Internet as a new country”, a country that offers “new rules for citizenship and new ideas about freedom”.
Manetas is no stranger to the activist cause: in 2009 the artist teamed up with curator Jan Aman and invited members of the controversial activist collective The Pirate Bay to Venice, where they were to inaugurate the Piracy Embassy, a plank of this year’s internet pavilion. .
The NFTs that make up the latest collection were taken from the 222 Assange portraits Manetas has produced in the last two years. The number was not random: There is one portrait for each day of the biennial, which runs from April 23 to November 27 after pre-openings on April 20, 21 and 22. Manetas has worked with a long-term partner Howie B on the collection, where the latter has put a unique piece of music over each individual NFT.
This year’s Internet Pavilion is centered around the theme “AIIA: Assange is the Internet The Internet is Assange.” Manetas is about to give away every single oil-on-canvas painting of the dissident to raise awareness of his situation.
Assange, meanwhile, is awaiting his fate with lawyers frantically working on an appeal against the extradition decision. The British Home Secretary’s decision to go to the US Department of Justice has been heavily criticized for setting a dangerous precedent and jeopardizing the future of public interest journalism.