Ahmet Öğüt

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Information Power to the People

Bronze sculpture with sculpted crane and plint
Co-produced by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam and Kunsthal Charlottenborg
Acquired by Rennie Collection, Vancouver.

View: temporarty instalment of the work in public space as part of the show ‘No Protest Lost’, Kunsthal Charlottenborg.

Computer genius, programming prodigy, and information activist, Aaron Swartz (1986–2013), was just fourteen when he developed the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) software. At fifteen he helped Internet law specialist Lawrence Lessig to develop the code for Creative Commons, and at nineteen he co-developed the social-networking site Reddit. Taking leave from Reddit at twenty, Swartz sought to protect freedom of information within the Internet, investing himself in political activism. This direction led to his arrest in 2011, on account of downloading millions of articles from the aca- demic research database Jstor. Swartz committed suicide in the midst of his prosecution. His case raised questions of authorship, owner- ship and: is downloading necessarily theft? When Anonymous hacked the State Department website of the US government on February 17th 2013, they declared “Aaron Swartz this is for you”. Öğüt’s Information Power to the People shows a bust of Aaron Swartz suspended above a classical plinth. Held by a crane, Swartz is frozen ambiguously between the moment of the bust’s placement or removal.