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Young feminist artists Nadezhda TOLOKONNIKOVA and Ekaterina SAMUTSEVICH create the new project, Pussy Riot. It combines actionism, media activism and punk rock. Maria ALYOKHINA starts taking part in the actions. Pussy Riot makes shows in public places and they sing the songs criticizing male chauvinism and authorities. But there is not much reaction from the authorities. Vladimir Putin is openly supported by the Patriarch Cyril as presidential candidate. Pussy Riot decides to conduct a punk church service in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour: “Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!” The action becomes their greatest failure but their most famous action. They are brought before the court and threatened by prison.
In 2012, three members of a Russian indie punk group called ‘Pussy Riot’ were arrested. In a Russian Orthodox Church, five members from the group including Masha, Nadya, and Petya performed a song entitled “Mother of God, Drive Putin Away.” Less than a minute after conducting this punk church service, they were arrested. While two of them fled Russia, the other three were convicted by the judge and sentenced to two years in prison. Defending “freedom of expression,” not only Russian artist collectives but also the world’s famous pop singers acted out against PUTIN. Protests calling for the release of Pussy Riot spread worldwide after the verdict, sparking controversy over freedom of expression and creating discourses on art exploring the relationship between art and politics; the significance of actionism in contemporary art; the conflict between sacrilege and freedom of expression; the punk spirit of resistance; art feminism having been leading the radical art scene; and the temporality in performance and media arts.
Originally, Pussy Riot was not an all-female artist collective. In 2011, Nadya, the founder of Pussy Riot tried to recruit artists to give an improvised performance called “Kissing a Cop.” As the male members of the artist collective she had been involved in refused to participate in the performance, she had no option but to recruit only women artists. A group of women artists went up to and kissed women police officers as a part of the performance, which marked the beginning of all-female Pussy Riot.
This film is a unique documentary exploring Pussy Riot’s actionism by positioning it in the context of Russian art history, in particular, in relation to Vasily SURIKOV’s Boyarina Morozova(1887) and Kazimir MALEVICH’s faceless people in his later works. (Sunah KIM)
Evgeny MITTAEvgeny MITTA
Evgeny MITTA, Born in Moscow, is a Russian artist, film director, and gallery owner. He graduated from the Moscow State Art Institute of V. Surikov in 1988. He’s a member of the Moscow Artists’ Association since 1994 and participant of XLIV Venice Biennale and other international art expositions. As a scenographer, he participated in several theater productions in MKhAT and Sovremennik theaters. He also founded Paperworks gallery in 2005. He starts filming the documentary series Anthology of Contemporary Art from 2007.