Talking sense

Chelsea Manning will make her first public appearance in the UK this October
By Finn Blythe | Current affairs | 14 August 2018

After Barack Obama sanctioned her release from military prison in 2017, ending a seven year sentence for disclosing classified US government documents to WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning will be honoured at the ICA’s annual Friends of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Dinner in October as part of her first public appearance in the UK.

The invite-onlyevent will follow a public Q&A session hosted by the Institute in which Manning will discuss the rise of artificial intelligence; the state of the data economy and the role of algorithms and AI in public policy, with a particular emphasis on the significance of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the role of digital technologies in undermining democracy.

“The ICA has, for 70 years, worked consistently to expand our idea of contemporary artistic practice” noted Kamal. “Recent exhibitions such as Counter Investigations by Forensic Architecture, the upcoming survey exhibition by Metahaven, the premiere of Laura Poitras’ Academy Award winning documentary Citizenfour and accompanying Q&A with Edward Snowden all represent vital artistic engagements with some of the most pressing issues of our time. Honouring Chelsea Manning in today’s media and political landscape will, I hope, show that the power of an individual can change the world through bravery, courage, determination and vision.”

Other issues set to be discussed include the Panama Papers and the profligacy with which the world’s richest can exploit off-shore tax havens, as well as queer and transgender rights which Manning has championed since she publicly identified as a trans woman in 2013 and asserted her legal rights to hormone therapy.

Having initially worked as an intelligence analyst for the US Department of Defense, Manning disclosed highly classified material to WikiLeaks, including video footage of the illegal July 12th, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Granai Massacre, in which over one hundred civilians, mostly children, were killed by a US airstrike. Having received an unprecedented 35 year jail sentence, Manning’s early release has proved a seminal moment in moving towards greater government transparency and democratic safeguarding.

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