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Being Chelsea Manning

by Rachel Corbett  |  01.08.2017
Being Chelsea Manning
Wikileaks, the white cube gallery show (Photo: © Paola Abreu Pita; courtesy of Fridman Gallery, Chelsea Manning and Heather Dewey Hagborg)
Chelsea Manning has far from disappeared from the public eye since Barack Obama commuted her prison sentence earlier this year. Annie Leibovitz shot her for this month’s Vogue and she’s currently the subject and co-creator, with artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg, of the A Becoming Resemblance show at Fridman Gallery until 5 September. Military prisons rarely allow inmates to send out images of themselves, but curiosity about Manning’s looks was running particularly high when Paper magazine decided to run a story about the transgender whistleblower two years ago. With no current photos, they had the clever idea of enlisting Dewey-Hagborg, an artist known for creating portraits based on DNA taken from cigarette butts. Manning sent hair clippings and cheek swabs to Dewey-Hagborg who used it to 3D-print 30 potential faces of Manning in various races and genders. “Her mitochondrial variations are found in populations around the globe, from Europe to the Middle East, Africa and Asia,” she says. “I can’t speak for Chelsea but I think she found it cool. She has been quite involved in the process all along, so it is not a surprise, but, still, to see all these variations on your face from your DNA and finally to see these portraits made years back while we were corresponding via prison mail, I think it is really moving.”

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