Unveiling Secrets | Artists and activists expose government oppression in groundbreaking WikiLeaks exhibition ‘States of Violence’

Innovative collaboration between a/political and WikiLeaks States of Violence reveals government oppression via art, activism, and top-secret cables.

Ai WeiWei - Study of Perspective HoP

Above: Ai WeiWei – Study of Perspective HoP

London-based arts organisation a/political will host a collaboration with WikiLeaks, presenting States of Violence from 24 March to 8 April. This groundbreaking exhibition will feature works from renowned artists and activists like Ai Weiwei, Dread Scott, and The Vivienne Foundation as they challenge and expose government oppression techniques, ranging from war and torture to police brutality and surveillance.

States of Violence will also showcase the largest-ever physical publication of top-secret government cables in the UK, previously unreleased in hardcopy format. These documents, titled ‘Secret+Noforn’ (2022), are the highest classification of wires from the 2010 WikiLeaks Cablegate publication of US diplomatic cables. Compiled by the Institute for Dissent & Datalove, the display aims to shed light on the darkest truths of our contemporary reality.

Dread Scott - Obliterated Power Pentagon

Dread Scott – Obliterated Power Pentagon

Since its inception in 2006, WikiLeaks has revolutionised how whistleblowers disclose sensitive information by providing a secure platform that maintains their anonymity. The organisation, founded by publisher Julian Assange, has published over 10 million documents and associated analyses relating to war, spying, and corruption.

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WikiLeaks has established secure communications with over 100 major media organisations worldwide, ensuring sources have negotiating power, impact, and technical protection.

However, WikiLeaks’ activities have come at a cost. Founder Julian Assange remains imprisoned in Belmarsh Prison, facing extradition to the United States, where he could receive a 175-year sentence under the Espionage Act. The century-old American law prohibits obtaining or sharing national defence information with the intent to cause harm to the US or benefit a foreign nation. Visitors to the States of Violence exhibition will receive a portion of the cables as they enter, symbolically engaging in the same crime Assange faces.

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A WikiLeaks ambassador highlighted the importance of the exhibition, stating, “Ideas cannot be caged. States of Violence brings this truth to life and demonstrates through art and culture that imprisoning Assange won’t stop what has been set in motion, the truth cannot be untold.”

Edmund Clark - Camp 6, Mobile Feeding Chair

Edmund Clark – Camp 6, Mobile Feeding Chair

Institute For Dissent and Datalove_SECRET + NOFORN_2022-2_photo-Moritz-Haase

Institute For Dissent and Datalove SECRET + NOFORN (Credit: Moritz-Haase)

Kendell Geers - Wonderland

Kendell Geers – Wonderland

Santiago Sierra, Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain (detail)

Santiago Sierra, Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain (detail)

A spokesperson for a/political emphasised the necessity of fighting for freedom of speech, adding, “Culture is the last free space in which these secrets can be exposed.”

The list of participating artists, musicians, and activists list will be announced soon. During the exhibition, a public program will be hosted at a/political by hip-hop artist and activist Lowkey. The event will conclude with a live music collaboration between a/political, WikiLeaks, Wau Holland Foundation, and Shangri-La Glastonbury on 8 April at EartH.

States of Violence represents a significant moment in the ongoing struggle for freedom of speech and the exposure of government oppression. Through art and activism, the exhibition aims to spark dialogue and inspire action to protect our fundamental rights.

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