Capital of Germany became richer for one more cultural event this month, in a form of public art. Alexander Platz in Berlin is for now a home for, how some media praised it „Holy Trinity of whistleblowers“, statues of Snowden, Assange and Manning. This modern provocative art piece is part of a project called “Anything to say”, a joint endeavour by the well-known American journalist Charles Glass and internationally recognized contemporary Italian artist Davide Dormino.
The project speaks about our experience of courage and our ability to see modern day reality from many different perspectives. Freedom of information and taking a stand on what we believe is also a central theme of the exhibition. Artists had decided to finance the project through crowdfunding, making it even more public in that manner. Apart from just being “controversial”, from the standpoint of Contemporary Art, this is an important project, sending a powerful message throughout the world. Besides being just artistic it is also a political project, because sculptures send us a strong message, directly correlated to the subjects chosen for the piece. The main element represented by these three figures standing up on those three chairs, leaving one empty for the audience to participate is the most important one, making all of us wonder: “Do I have anything to say?”
Should I stand up too? And why?
Because by standing up, you are are looking at things from a different point of view and in that way you are trying to open up a new horizon on how to look at our current reality. You see, the world is not the same after wiki-leaks. And that is just one example. That is the reason why this sculpture celebrates these three characters and especially celebrates their courage and it invites us all to experience courage and stand up on the chair next to them, maybe we can change the world too? Who knows?
« I am the type of person who likes to know how things work. And, as an analyst, this means I always want to figure out the truth.» Bradley Chelsea Manning
The theme of the piece is universal and timeless and yet it manages to manifest itself in a very simple way – three characters standing up, straight, on top of a chairs while transmitting a strong message to the modern world. Dormino was inspired by “Oh Captain My Captain”- from the film The Dead Poet’s Society, where the professor asks his students to stand up on their chair and see the world from a different point of view. But the message in the form of a chair has a darker side. Three sculptures alongside with the empty chair in such a place also grimmly resembles a public execution, when someone is hanged with the rope around their neck standing on a chair. We can ask ourselves: Are those three great man up there already publicly executed by the mainstream media and the government?
Bradley Chelsea Manning is currently serving thirty-five years in an American federal prison. Julian Assange has been confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in England for four years without a single charge brought against him. Edward Snowden is now trapped somewhere in Russia.
And you should remind yourself that thanks to Assange, Snowden and Manning, you know our modern limits of freedom. You know that you are spied on every hour of every day in so many different ways. You know how governments kill and torture alleged enemies worldwide.
« I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded.» Edward Snowden
Throughout history, great man and heroes were not sitting down, and in doing so Manning, Assange and Snowden accepted their loss of freedom. They said no to war, no to the lies that lead to war and to the intrusion into private life that helps to perpetuate war. While you seemingly remain free, their actions remind us that we can refuse to collaborate with terrifying power of world governments.
« To keep a person ignorant is to place them in a cage.» Julian Assange
This is a moment in history in which we can no longer make compromises.True Art always had a role, and a responsibility to take a stand because the fundamental role of an artist is to help people shape their point of view, in way that liberates us. When art does not do this, it has only an aesthetic function.
Dormino also decided to reconfigure the sculptures by dressing them in overalls. This makes it difficult for the viewer passing by to distinguish whether they are workers or soldiers in uniform. The characters could be engineers or war heroes. Or maybe you?