WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange turns muse for Artists
Since the dawn of mankind, art – to a great extent – has been influenced by the external world. At some level artistic expression can be defined as the result of the mingling or rather clashing of the internal with the external. Events across the world and international politics are therefore muses for several artists. Street art and graffiti probably illustrate this phenomenon the best. In the recent past, an unusual muse has emerged for artists across the globe – Julian Assange.
From a coloring book to full-fledged tribute art – the art world seems to be at the awe of the silver haired Australian. The founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks is easily one of the most spoken about and debated about personality in the world. Assange’s efforts to bring out the secrets that the authorities want to push under the rug have shaken the world order. A hero to many, villain to few – artistic tributes to the controversial man is now popping up in every street corner, as well as on the world of internet.
Dubbing Assange the “new folk hero”, a post on Brooklyn Street Art observed,”Pre-dating the modern ‘Street Art’ movement, the street has traditionally been an outlet for the voice of the people and social movements have almost always gained purchase there.
“Posters of underground heroes are as old as ‘Wanted: Billy the Kid’ nail-ups that people used to rip down and take home. The amount of politically motivated Street Art you see or even themes surrounding social issues seem to ebb and flow in quantity, but they are ever present. Villain to some and emerging folk hero to others, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has already inspired a comic book in addition to some pieces on the street.”
At the fun end of the spectrum, a website simply called Julian Assange Colouring Book allows users to enjoy the relaxing benefits of “Coloring in” ready made outlines of the gifted computer hacker/journalist/founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
“‘Collateral murder’, ‘Cablegate’, sexual misconduct charges against Julian in Sweden, calls for his assassination by the CIA, intrigue, suspense, and conspiracy theories – it all makes for pretty serious stuff.
“So where does the Julian Assange Coloring Book fit in? Well, simply put, it’s not “serious stuff”. It’s a coloring book about Julian Assange (with the occasional WikiLeaks page for good measure),” reads the website’s about section.
But the frivolity – so to speak – ends there as the versatility of the tribute art dedicated to Assange does not fail to awe. A point that needs to be stressed here is the fact that the pieces of reverence towards Assange come from all corners of the world. Amorfart, Hungarian street art site, showcased the making of a five layer stencil on a vinyl album, while the street art from Melbourne has been displayed for the world to see on the photo-sharing website Flickr by Regan Tamanui.
But the best of the lot comes from a French artist called Thierry Ehrmann. Ehrmann is quite a controversial figure. The artist born in Lyon is the founder and current chairman of the Serveur Group, a company that manages databases of art auction quotations through ArtPrice website. Ehrmann sparked off a row in connection with the decoration of his house, the Abode of Chaos. The house located in the peaceful village stick outs as the artist turned it into a replica war zone. Ehrmann is fighting a legal battle to sustain his house in which lives over 2,500 artworks from different artists.
Ehrmann’s photostream on Flickr contains an impressive collection of Assange-inspired art. The first of the three portraits of Julian Assange at the Abode of Chaos has been painted by an artist called Thomas Foucher. The second one has been posted on the occasion of Assange’s arrest, while the third and the most impressive one by Ehrmann has been posted to celebrate Assange being named the Man of the Year by Le Monde. The third portrait of Assange incorporates the fictitious cult-rebel hero ‘V for Vendetta’. While the right half of the portrait is that of Assange, the Guy Fawkes mask that ‘V’ wears forms the left half. This portrayal is extremely striking due to the parallel drawn between the man who fought against the totalitarian government in the Graphic-Novel series by Alan Moore and the man who is fighting against the tightlipped and seemingly scheming leaders and authoritative bodies in a world – present and real – plagued by many miseries.