April 6, 2023

The Uncensored Issue

An unprecedented collaboration with WikiLeaks, featuring Ai Weiwei, Forensic Architecture and Vivienne Westwood among many others, in partnership with a/political

Ai Weiwei, Study of Perspective, 2014. Courtesy the artist and a/political

“No price is too high when asking for social justice.

Personal freedom is the goal of life and no price is too high.”

–  Ai Weiwei on the price artists pay in their defence of human freedom.

Why is WikiLeaks looking to artists at a time of increased surveillance and governmental oppression? Our latest issue of the Scott & Co Quarterly highlights collaborations between creatives and campaigners advocating for freedom of expression. We are working with the London-based art organisation a/political on their newest exhibition States of Violence, organised alongside WikiLeaks and the Wau Holland Foundation. This is the first time the online media organisation has publicly partnered on a project of this kind. In a meeting of minds, a spokesperson for a/political describes the exhibition as, ‘two independent organisations that prioritise freedom of speech and felt a state of emergency’. The show brings together artworks and objects – from participants including Ai Weiwei, Vivienne Westwood, Forensic Architecture, Santiago Sierra and Andrei Molodkin – that shine a light on global power structures and make stark observations on the current political climate.

Among the works included is ‘SECRET+NOFORN’ (2022), by the Institute for Dissent & Datalove. It is the largest-ever physical publication of the US diplomatic cables released in 2010 by WikiLeaks, widely known as Cablegate. Opening just one of the 66 books could make you complicit with Julian Assange’s alleged crimes under the 1917 Espionage Act – exposing the extremity of the law that landed him in prison. Several of the artworks included in the exhibition have been censored elsewhere, suggesting that cultural settings are not always safe havens to interrogate these issues. In spite of these challenges, artists and activists are continually finding creative ways to defy attempted takedowns of personal freedoms – and isn’t that a risk worth taking?


The Digest

People, Places & Ideas

Don’t Delete Art (DDA) has published a manifesto for their project, which aims ‘to draw attention to the damage done when social media companies censor art, and to work towards greater protection of artistic expression across platforms’. (See the petition here)

Artist and activist Diana Weymar’s ‘Tiny Pricks Project’ is an ever-expanding community project that immortalises ex-president Trump’s words in stitching. (Instagram)

‘Limiting what people see and digest is ultimately about controlling a narrative for a mass audience in both the physical and virtual realms’. Gareth Harris discusses his new book, Censored Art Today, on the podcast ‘This Week in Art’. (The Art Newspaper)

Instagram might finally be about to free the nipple. What took them so long? (Vogue)

Best-selling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie recently gave the first of four of BBC’s 2022 Reith Lectures, discussing freedom of speech. (Listen here)

How far should disobedience go? DW looks at art censorship and the Just Stop Oil protests. (Deutsche Welle)

‘I find it paradoxical that, a couple of decades into the twenty-first century when people are able to express themselves freely every minute of the day, the world should still be closed-minded and exclusionary’. (Farah Nayeri in her book, Takedown: Art and Power in the Digital Age)

‘For museumgoers, the ethical dimensions of viewing plundered art have become impossible to ignore’. When visiting a museum becomes an ethical dilemma, what responsibility do we bear as spectators for supporting institutions that display what critics say are stolen works? (Charly Wilder, New York Times)

‘Everyone is policing everything, and the left are just as bad as the right’. Over lunch with Tim Adams, Professor Mary Beard connects classics to the current ‘culture wars’, and the importance of speaking your mind. (The Guardian)

‘But really when a public figure gets “cancelled”, what’s talking is not morality: it’s money’. How online conspiracy theorists are drawing a line from Balenciaga’s bondage-themed photoshoot to the art of the Chapman Brot (Tom Whyman, ArtReview)



Dates for your Diary

9 April – 2 October

Thus waves come in pairs: Petrit Halilaj & Alvaro Urbano | Simone Fattal

Ocean Space, Venice

14 April – 31 March 2024

Remedios: Where new land might grow

C3A and TBA21, Andalusia

20 April – 20 May 2023

Sky Glabush: The Arrangement of Stars

Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

20 April

Indu Antony, Mindscapes Residency

The Museum of Art and Photography, Bengaluru

20 – 23 April

Mindscapes International Gathering

Bengaluru, India

27 April

Teorema screening + intro and talk with Bruce LaBruce

BFI Southbank, London

27 – 28 April

Bruce LaBruce: The Visitor

a/political, London

5 May

Abraham Cruzvillegas

kurimanzutto, New York

17 – 21 May

Frieze New York

The Shed in Hudson Yards, New York City

18 May

Peter & Matthew Kennard

a/political, London

20 May – 26 November

Biennale Architettura 2023

Venice, Italy

1 – 30 June

The London Festival of Architecture


2 – 4 June

London Gallery Weekend