Future Heroes: Stockholm
Wikileaks and Julian Assange

- Memorials for upcoming crimes against humanity-

By Efthymios Penessis & Gudrun Wernet

What does hero really mean? Why do people become heroes and who decides? Society? And if so, how does society decide? History and social narration teaches us about heroes, who come to us from the glorious past riding on a black horse, saving the nation, giving justice and hope to the people. Heroes are constructions of power structures. Through the social image all aspects of the hero are formed to represent something beautiful, ethical and politically correct.

Most memorials are for the deceased. They talk about the past. “Future heroes” are memorials for the present. They represent current affairs and their effect on the future. The installation consists of a selected number of life-size pillows made from white cement that have been dedicated to activists. They stand as memorials for upcoming crimes against humanity.

What makes Wikileaks and Julian Assange heroes and why bring “Future Heroes” to Stockholm? Apart from the obvious struggle of the artists to provoke and gain recognition, it seems that there is a local experience in Stockholm that confronts a global community experience. We presume that both are constructed and expanded by the media. The media decides who becomes a hero and who doesn’t. Coincidently last month, an athletic equipment company ran a campaign presenting football players as heroes.

On the other side of the coin there is a global web community that admires Wikileaks since they have revealed the source of information for everyone. Assange and Wikileaks committed one of the most radical actions in the history of humanity. They documented present-day ‘history’. They reveal the real reasons behind political actions. Instead of support, Wikileaks faces financial extinction. Instead of respect, Assange is obligated to remain ‘captured’ in a golden cage, in order to remain free.

Does and should a hero represent all the moral aspects of the society? The answer is yes. At least that is the answer that the power structure’s media gives. The case study of the athletes continues: “If you are a good athlete then you are a hero and then you can have a million money contract. If you cheat on your wife/husband and we find out about it, forget it. No money, no more heroism.”

We (the artists) promote awareness of the Wikileaks’s action. For us there are no heroes as we have been taught, and there will never be. Irrespective of local opinion this is just one ambiguity of our hero’s personal life. Since everything is counted with pennies the British government has already spent 30 billion Euros for Assange’s guarding, which meanwhile, cuts social benefits. A simple assurance by the Swedish government that there would be no extradition to the U.S. would negate every argument.

Meanwhile we (humanity) cannot see the forest because soon there will be no forest. The Amazon. Recent research shows that one environmental activist is killed every week. Their stories are on the verge of being forgotten. There needs to be something to remind people about the inhumane conditions resulting from acrimonious human exploits.

All these activists, including hundreds that go undocumented, are pioneers. They take part in a movement which fights for justice, human rights and democracy. Their cruel fate shows the possible consequences of activism and in the meantime, the urgent need to wake up and take action. They remind us of our own unconsciousness; the unconscious which, if awakened, recognizes our responsibility as individuals and our power in numbers. It’s only when we are pushed out of our comfort zones that we wake up and can really begin to evolve and improve.

Good luck.