Julian Assange: The Magic of the Happening


How a diplomatic issue becomes a piece of temporary art.

Image by Valentina Signorelli

It’s 20th July, 2012. In London the sun is brightly shining and the tidy roads of Knightsbridge are wandered by many customers weighted by their wealthy shopping bags.

It looks like an ordinary summer noon in the city centre, but at Flat 3B, 3 Hans Crescent, something is going on. Mr Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been granted asylum in the Ecuador Embassy for less than a week.

Image by Valentina Signorelli

Despite what appears in the latest news reports, this shows all the characteristics of a contemporary ‘Happening’.

Quoting the definition of Michael Kirby, a Happening is: ” A form of theatre where different analogic elements, including the scenic action devoided of any matrices, are freely put together and organised into a compartments structure.”

Image by Valentina Signorelli

And here we are; a dozen police officers deploid outside. On the opposite corner journalists and photographers, a slim and fleeting shadow beside the curtains, a wake of curious but informed pedestrians slowly passing by. At the same time, on the other pavement a handful of protesters quietly remonstrate. One of them, Giovanna from Ecuador, displays one of the most important concerns; the manipulation of free information.

She holds the front page of a local free press where Mr Assange is shown staring upwards during the speech he made on Sunday, while his sight indicates the top of the sheet where a girl is caught in a sexy dance move.

This can be considered as the essence of the Happening itself, where different elements are taken and decontextualised in order to create new ideas.

These are the moments right before something happens, when all the parts are called to take part in an imminent event, like a temporary installation that will then rapidly consume its uncertainity by waiting. The only question is: when?



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