‘states of violence’ opposes threats to free speech


The exhibition ‘States of Violence’ in London brings together the work of leading artists and agitators, unveiling forms of government oppression. Running from March 24, 2023, to April 8, 2023, the rebellious show is presented by the non-profit London-based arts organization a/political, marking an outstanding collaboration with WikiLeaks — the well-known NGO that operates a whistleblowing news site. 


‘States of Violence’ battles for our freedom of speech in the modern era we are going through, exposing top-secret government cables and classified media, never before available in hardcopy in the UK. The works created by iconic names such as Ai Weiwei, Dread Scott, and The Vivienne Foundation, among others, put the spotlight on global power structures, releasing material for the darkest truths of our modern reality. The display also includes hard copies of documents leaked in 2010 by Wikileaks’ founder and journalist Julian Assange, also fighting for his freedom, as he has been detained at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison since 2019. ‘When the stakes are this high, telling the truth is a radical act,’ stated Joseph Farrell, Wikileaks Ambassador and Chloe Schlosberg, Wau Holland Foundation.

'states of violence' exhibition exposes top government cables leaked by activist assange
‘Wonderland’ by South African conceptual artist Kendell Geers



largest-ever physical publication of top-secret embassy cables


Wikileaks (see more here) and a/political (more here) join forces for a protest through art and culture against diplomatic scandals, from war and torture to police brutality and surveillance. Among the artworks is Ai Weiwei’s photography series ‘Study of Perspective’, which sees the iconic Chinese artist raising his middle finger to architectural structures that depict institutional authority. Other highlights include the ‘SECRET+NOFORN’ (2022) (meaning no foreign nationals), an artwork by the Institute for Dissent & Datalove, which contains the highest classification of cables from the 2010 WikiLeaks Cablegate publication of U.S. diplomatic cables.


‘Humans can be held by walls. Armed guards can watch their every move. Governments can do their utmost to stop their voices reaching the outside world. But 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. Hasta la Victoria siempre!’ shared an ambassador for WikiLeaks. ‘There is no fight more important than the fight for our freedom of speech. Culture is the last free space in which these secrets can be exposed,’ added a spokesperson for a/political.

'states of violence' exhibition exposes top government cables leaked by julian assange
‘Study of Perspective HoP’ by Chinese contemporary artist, documentarian, and activist Ai WeiWei


The whistleblowing news site WikiLeaks changed the course of history, publishing over 10 million documents of censored or restricted official materials since its launch in 2006. This action allowed whistleblowers worldwide to reveal sensitive documents while maintaining anonymity.


As a direct result, Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange was arrested on Espionage charges in London and remained in Belmarsh Prison, facing extradition to America, where he could receive 175 years under Espionage Act. ‘The American Espionage Act of 1917 prohibits obtaining information, recording pictures, or copying descriptions of any information relating to the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information may be used for the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.’ To this day, anybody who opens one of the 66 books from ‘SECRET+NOFORN’ (2022) is at high risk of being prosecuted under this more than one hundred year old act.


This exhibition stands not as a gesture for Assange but rather as a means to raise awareness about our freedom of speech. Entering the space, visitors are surrounded by diplomatic cables, an action that metaphorically takes the viewer against the extradition under the 1917 Espionage Act — ‘a movement that seeks to expose the invisible danger of the law to us all.’

'states of violence' exhibition exposes top government cables leaked by activist assange
‘SECRET + NOFORN’ by Institute For Dissent and Datalove



Artists, musicians, and activists will all raise their voices through their art. According to a/political, an accompanying public program will be hosted by hip-hop artist and activist, Lowkey. A live music event, hosted as a collaboration between a/political, Wikileaks, Wau Holland Foundation, and Shangri-La Glastonbury, will be held as closing at EartH on April 8, 2023.

'states of violence' exhibition exposes top government cables leaked by activist assange
‘Camp 6, Mobile Feeding Chair’ by British artist and photographer Edmund Clark

'states of violence' exhibition exposes top government cables leaked by julian assange
‘Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain’ by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra

'states of violence' exhibition exposes top government cables leaked by julian assange
‘Obliterated Power Pentagon’ by Dread Scott



project info:


exhibition name: ‘States of Violence’

by: a/political | @apoliticalorg in collaboration with Wikileaks | @wikileaks

location: The Bacon Factory, 6 Stannary Street, Kennington, London SE11 4AA

dates: from March 24, 2023, to April 8, 2023