"Pussy Riot" is a feminist punk-rock group that promotes the ideas of gender equality, LGBT rights and political freedoms. It is heavily influenced by such successful American groups as Riot Grrrl, Bikini Kill and others. The group performed a punk-style prayer in the Christ the Saviour's Cathedral in Moscow on February 21st expressing their disagreement with the Church's involvement in secular politics. In the month of March three women from the group were arrested for offending the feelings of the faithful, and as of today they have been held in custody for almost five months. Moreover, recently the court extended their detention by another six months. Those young women face up to seven years in prison if convicted. Their trial started yesterday.
Hundreds of eminent Russian musicians, artists, actors, writers and poets wrote letters to the Patriarch and to the President, begging them to release the women who suffer from this arbitrary treatment, and tens of thousands ordinary people joined them for it is clear that though the women crossed the line, the punishment is inadequate, it is too harsh. Amnesty International recognized the women as prisoners of conscience because of the extremely severe response by the authorities.
Some of the greatest international stars have spoken out for the arrested women, among them Sting, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Faith No More and Franz Ferdinand. In Germany there was a concert in support of the women on July 31st, and among the artists there were be such groups as Radio Havanna, Smile And Burn and Anti-Flag.
And most importantly, the women met unprecedentedly wide support among Russian artists. During the past five months dozens of prominent Russian contemporary artists created various artworks to protest the unjust treatment of the women. One of Russia's best-known sociologists Alek D. Epstein who had taken a great interest in Russia's protest movements and who had written a book about the "Voina" art-group published a beautiful compilation of artworks dedicated to the arrested women by approximately 50 Russian contemporary artists. It is entitled
This book features numerous artworks accompanied by an integral scientifically structured text that by itself represents an extensive pioneer sociological piece of research of the "Pussy Riot" phenomenon and its cultural background and impact, it also looks into various aspects of representation of the Mother of God in the contemporary art since She is the main figure mentioned in the punk prayer. The visual component of the book concists of the numerous photos, drawings, paintings and sketches posted online by friends and supporters. Among them you find truly intriguing pieces of work such as documentaristic comics by Viktoria Lamasko or sharp-witted cartoons by Sergey Yelkin, a funny drawing by Dmitriy Bulygin that openly demonstrates the meaning of the group's name, and also a touching portrait of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova drawn with lipstick by Lena Hades during a court session. Among other artists who contributed their works are Evgeniya Matlseva, Lusine Dzhanyan, Alexey Knedlyakovskiy, Anton Nikolaev, Alexey Iorsh, David Ter-Oganyan, German Vinogradov, Vladimir Kozin, Oleg Hvostov, Artem Loskutov, Leonid Danylov and many other prominent Russian contemporary artists. Alek Epstein also included some of artworks by foreign contemporary artists dedicated to the Mother of God while analyzing this figure's representation in the art while conducting his research.
Alek Epstein went to great lengths to accomplish this goal and faced a lot of challenges, but he finally pulled through: he published the album on July 19th, and the presentation is scheduled for August 10th. This is a tremendous event for Russia's contemporary art and political opposition as well as for all of us who hope for the women's soon release.
It is hard to expect the book to change the outcome of the legal process. But there is absolutely no doubt that it is necessary to speak about it. So, please, if it is only possible, help us spread the word...
It is really important that the world sees the genuine consolidated support expressed by Russia's cultural world. So here are some links:
A review by the ArtGuide portal with some images: http://www.artguide.ru/ru/articles/23/226
Original review by Valeriy Ledenev: http://artchronika.ru/blog/epstein-pussy-riot/
Selected pictures from the album: