Russia 3 - New Artistic Resistance

Recently new artist groups emerged. They are not satisfied with pictorial protest, for it is too uneffective. West European sellers/galleries/museums exhibit these works and the audience is happy to see this critical art (to see their prejudices approved), but it does not change anything in Russia (where many of the works stay invisible). Consequently a new generation of artists try to be more active, to go out on the streets and organise demonstrations. Sometimes these actions move on the borderline to vandalism. These "happenings" are emblematic of a new trend in Russian post-soviet art. The artists combine political statements and artistic aesthetics. Often the lines between both are blurred. The artists and artist groups are seen as a threat by stately organs. "The time of individualistic art is over, now it is about group art," says Vorotnikov, one of the founders of the artist group Voina. "Post-modernist comment on a discouse that already exists and we are starting a new discussion". It is striking that many of the contemporary, artistic resistance movements are made by groups or collectives.

Voina
One of the most important groups in this context is Voina (War). 2011 Voina activists climbed over the fence of a police station in St. Petersburg and set a police prisoner transport truck with Molotov cocktails on fire. It totally burned down. Another action was "Vacuous Cunt with Inconceivably Huge Tits steals a chicken from a supermarkte by hiding it in her vagina". The title explains the artwork... The group came to public attention with a performance in 2008, shortly before the election of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. Five couples had public sex in the Stately Museum of Biology in Moscow. In the background a banner hung, which said "Fuck for their heur Puppy Bear!". Bear refers to Medvedev (medved means bear).
The group dedicated an action to Moscow Mayor Luzhkov, who is known for racist and homophobic statements. The group staged Central Asian guest workes and two homosexuals hanged in a public supermarket.
One of their best known actions was a 65 m long phallus, which they painted on a bridge in St. Petersburg. The drawbridge leads to the building of the Federal Security Service. Everytime a ship came, the phallus "erected" in the direction of the so-called Bolshoy Dom. 
The group is not supported by any Russian curator nor gallery. Occasionally members of the group are arrested. Normally the official charges were violations of Article 213, 2: a law against hooliganism. "Relevant art is political art", says one of the members. 



Pussy Riot
Pussy Riot is a feminist band (punk-rock collective), known for its provocative performances. It consists of 10 perforers and 15 people who handle the technical work and the shooting of their videos, which can be found online. In 2012 the group was part of the protest movement against the (re-)election of Vladimir Putin as president. They performed in front of the famous Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. The lyrics contained parols like "Holy Mother (...) chase Putin out!". After the performance two members were arrested by Russian authorities. The official charge (again) was according to Article 213,2: hooliganism (same paragraph used to arrest members of Voina or FEMEN). If convicted the women could be imprisoned for seven years. Amnesty International named them prisoners of conscience.
(Photo: from the official facebook-page by Pussy Riot)
The aethetics of the performances is quite unique: the women are dressed with coloful tights and masked with knitted, brightly colored blaclavas. 

Artyom Loskutov
Loskutov is organiser of the so-called Monstration-March (Monstratsiya), which draws hundreds of people every May 1. The "march" is no protest march in a traditional sense but resemble artistic performances or flash-mobs. Some of the demonstraters come with posters and banners with absurd statements written on them. The slogans are delibertely anti-political and senseless. It should remind of 20th century avantgarde movements like DADA, French surrealism and 1968-er philosophies (Baudrillard, Badieu). "Fantasy is welcome! Political slogans and slogans which make sense are not welcome.
loskutov
Furthermore he organised and inspired exhibitions, happenings, film festivals, concerts and (art) actions. 


Loskutov has a website called kissmybabushka.com (babushka means: Grandma) and is a member of the art groups CAT (Contemporary Art Terrorism) and its successor Babushka Posle Pokhoron (Grandma after the funeral). The latter uses irreverent pranks and roudy street performances.
In 2009 Loskutov, whose phone had been tapped, was arrested. Police officers claimed to have found 11 grams of weed in his bag. It might be possible that the drugs were planted (such tactics are well known in Russia).

Pyotr Alexeev Resistance Movement
The DSPA (Dvizhenye soprotivlenya imeni Petra Alexeeva) is a left-wing political, network organization in Russia, founded in 2004 by journalist and political activist Dmitriy Jvania. The movement criticises the exploitation of poor people and the suppression of freedom, due to the expansion of capitalism. DSPA inspires and organises nonviolent campaigns in form of posters and banners or direct actions like demonstrations. The main objective of the group is organising a resistance movement.
Its main presence is its website http://www.dspa.info/


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