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Voina, Pussy Riot and the War on Art in Russia

In Art, Polytricks on October 24, 2012 at 9:55 am

I’m guessing most have heard of Pussy Riot by now, and the savage over-reaction of the Russian Government and Russian Orthodox Church to their 50 second punk rock concert in the biggest cathedral in Moscow.  I was intrigued by the story and of course ended up going down an internet rabbit hole researching this one.  In the dark days of Soviet oppression artist were sent to ‘mental hospitals’ and ‘treated’ for their ‘anti-social’ artwork.  So it is of course chilling to find that two Pussy Riot members are now doing 2 years in separate labour camps in central Russia.

How did it come to this?  Well here is the strange tale.  Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia has descended into a bizarre and cruel dystopia.  The introduction of capitalism, neo-liberalism and privatisation of the commons has resulted in disaster for Russia.  A few gangsters and elite bureaucrats have become fabulously wealthy while the lot of the average Russian has deteriorated so baldy that Russia now has a negative birth rate

Russia’s first post-Soviet president was a US puppet.  His privatization program destroyed Russia financially and socially.  The US, Europe, IMF and World Bank promised billions of dollars to help Russia transition to a ‘market economy’.  A tiny fraction of the promised loans and aid arrived and the West rubbed its hands in glee as the former Soviet Republics disintegrated into civil war, chaos, financial meltdown and into a grotesque gangster state.

I kinda expected that the black-marketeers of Soviet Russia would turn into the ‘new’ capitalist government.  But what I didn’t see coming was the rise in political power of the Russian Orthodox Church.  Russia now has the bizarre reality of a KGB president and a KGB Church Patriarch.  There is no doubt that the ‘new’ Russia is a strange and dangerous place.

Against this dystopian backdrop was formed the anarchist art collective Voina.  It was formed by some Moscow university post graduates who were sick of the corruption and poverty of the new Russian regime.  Voina had been living as an anarchist community, meaning they gave up money, and became homeless and took what they needed from the supermarket, they rode outside the trains to get across town, sounds to me that their university degrees didn’t open any doors to a better life.

Voina decided to protest against the State in some radical ways.  They started kissing Russian police, They painted a giant penis on bridge opposite the State Security Building, they organized a protest orgy in the Moscow’s  State Museum, they stole food from supermarkets dressed as priests, they released cockroaches and played live punk music at their court appearances, they staged a protest ‘hanging’ of Central Asian workers and gay activists in the largest department store in Moscow, they burned a police mobile detention van, they filmed their actions with cell phones and posted it on the web. The really raised some hell!

I can tell from the photos of these Voina actions that the two Pussy Riot women jailed in labour camps were present at most of Voina’s actions.  Are their sentences, revenge from the Russian government because they cannot catch the other Voina members, (some of which Banksy bailed out of jail)?.  Desperate times indeed for protesters in Russia where “swearing in public” can get you thrown in jail for a couple of weeks.  Putin’s control over Russia must be brittle for this kind of over-reaction to take place.  I can’t help feeling that the West threw Russia to the wolves.  The blowback from this betrayal will come back to haunt us.

 

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  1. […] to Putin’s Pig State was unforgivable.  I’m a big fan of Voina and Pussy Riot and have blogged about their strange history in Russia.  I’m sure that Depardieu is a great actor but to be so afraid of the tax-man that you run […]

  2. I’m not sure Maria was a part of the original Voina. One of the camera crew for “Cock in the Ass” (Live Punk in Court) looks like Maria, but I’m not sure if it is her.

  3. Yes I was guessing it was her .. they all used to know each other but now there is a schism .. hardly surprising given the huge pressure they all are under.. I sure do admire their courage and ideology.. they make put the protesters in the West to shame with their strength against overwhelming odds..

  4. I am not sure the place you are getting your information, but good topic.

    I needs to spend a while learning more or working out more.

    Thank you for excellent information I used to be in search
    of this information for my mission.

  5. Thanks for your comments.. as for where I get my information its in the hyper-links throughout the article.. I try and not be someone who just writes stuff off the top of my head.. it took me days to research the Voina post.. 😉

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