Assange lobbies for a giant statue of himself

Julian AssangeNo-one can say that being locked up in the Ecuadorean embassy on the run from sex charges has damaged Julian Assange’s ego much.

The founder of Wikileaks wants people to invest their hard-earned dollars into the creation of a life-size bronze public artwork featuring himself, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

“A monument to courage” is a proposed statue by Italian sculptor Davide Dormino, entitled Anything to Say?, will depict the trio standing on chairs, with another empty seat beside them onto which members of the public will be encouraged to climb – allowing them to stand shoulder to shoulder with the whistleblowers.

We would have thought “oh for goodness sake” would have been a better title. Putting Assange in the same league as Manning and Snowden who actually paid the price for actually leaking documents is a bit unfair.  They are either in jail or in exile, for leaking documents. He is banged up in the embassy because he does not want to face questions about two women who laid complaints about sexual assault about  him.  He denies the charges but refuses to go court to face his accusers.

Organisers need £100,000 to complete the project, a sum they hope to raise by 1 January through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter. With just 21 days to go, only £19,360 has been pledged – perhaps explaining why Assange chose to alert WikiLeaks’ 2.4 million Twitter followers to the campaign.

According to the Kickstarter page, the statue “is not a simple homage to individuals, but to courage and to the importance of freedom of speech and information”. The reason for the empty chair is that each of us can climb onto it to change our point of view.

“The work of art will travel from country to country and offer the opportunity for us to hear each other out and think.”

The idea for the statue came from Dormino and Charles Glass, an American author, journalist and broadcaster. British journalist Vaughan Smith, with whom Assange stayed while he was on bail in 2010, is organising the Kickstarter campaign. This is surprisingly forgiving of Smith, because when Assange skipped bail he left those who posted bail for him in the embarrassing position where they had to pay up.

“I got excited by it because I thought it was some art that suggested, rather appropriately, that these whistleblowers were our true friends rather than the politicians who pretend to be,” Smith told The Independent.

He added that most of the £100,000 for the project would go towards transporting the artwork around the world and that nobody was being paid for taking part. The rest of the money will go towards the statue’s creation at a foundry in Pietrasanta, Tuscany.

Oddly,Wikileaks will not get any cash out of the project and the sculpture has not worked out a way of getting a good image of Chelsea Manning, whose appearance has changed and there are not enough pictures of her.  There are shedloads of snaps of Assange.