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Monument to honour assange, snowden

Sculptor Davide Dormino plans a monument of courage to honour efforts of Assange, Snowden and Manning.

Antonia Filmer  London | 6th Dec 2014

Julian Assange with sculptor Davide Dormino

avide Dormino wants to create a monument to courage, and the Frontline Club in London staged an event to help him. The monument comprises life-size bronze statues of Julian Assange, Bradley Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden standing on chairs with an empty chair beside them, symbolising the space for anyone who has something to say, to stand on. The statue and the campaign raising money for this project are called "Anything to Say". This is not only to pay homage to those individuals but to encourage freedom of speech and information for everyone.

The sculptor, Davide Dormino has a conscience about the right to free speech. "Art can be political. I believe in acts. Public Art has the power to make people grow and change their point of view" just like journalism... "Many think they are traitors and terrorists. History never had a positive opinion of contemporary revolutionaries. You need courage to act, to stand up on that empty chair even if it hurts," by which he means Bradley Chelsea Manning is serving 35 years in an American federal prison, Julian Assange is confined in London without a single charge brought against him and Edward Snowden is trapped in Moscow.

Bronze statue of Assange

Dormino wanted to update Julian Assange about the project personally. Charles Glass, the American veteran journalist and broadcaster specialising in the Middle East, arranged a rendezvous on the evening of 23 November at the Ecuadorian embassy, where Assange has been a "refugee" for 886 days. After entering, Glass' and Dormino's passports and telephones were taken away.

Assange's diplomatic office is a small apartment without a garden, without even an internal courtyard where he can get a breath of fresh air. Dormino was dismayed: "The impression is one of a siege, with a strong sense of claustrophobia. The lack of natural light and fresh air is immediately striking. That said, one gets the impression that the Ecuadorian embassy does everything to make his life more tolerable."

Glass and Dormino took tomatoes, mozzarella, sliced salami, Parmesan cheese and bread for dinner.

Reporting on Assange's disposition, Dormino said, "Julian was very white in complexion, like a living statue of marble. Yet, his magnetism was evident despite the weight of reclusion. I had the strong sensation of shaking the hand of someone who had done something devastating and was paying for the consequences with courage. We spoke at length about the "Anything to Say?" project, that he found very strong conceptually, courageous for the expressive force and clear through the figures I created.

"He never complained about his living conditions because he knows that others (Manning) are in a much worse situation. He reminded me that half the world is on his side and that is what gives him strength. The four-hour dinner was very intimate and serious; it was as though Julian had a body full of files that were running quickly through his veins. He hinted at new revelations that were about to be leaked."

The Frontline Club was established by Vaughan Smith to honour colleagues at the Frontline News Television agency — colleagues who died pursuing their work. The club exists to promote freedom of expression, to celebrate quality journalism and dedication to ensuring that stories that fade from headlines are kept in sharp focus. The awareness event was well attended and pointed folks in the direction of the fundraising at Kickstarter, the popular crowd funding platform. The project requires £100,000 and has only 24 days to go. All the money donated will be invested in the project, in the fusion of bronze as well as the transport and installation of the artwork. The work of art will travel from country to country as testimony to Assange, taking his message around the world.

 
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