Thought, art and politics from a feminist slant

Contemporary creation questions two ways of dealing with reality: how to think about it and how to transform it, in other words, it questions representation and intervention. Thought and artistic practice are closely related and the pace is increasingly set by activism. They look for new ways of confronting, affecting, being, perceiving, sustaining, putting yourself in reality... beyond spectacular games where "nobody plays and everyone watches", other people are invited to participate in building sense, from a personal view..

Performances, direct actions, use the body and its potentialities such as voice, touch, movement and the visceral aspect to question how we relate to the world and reality, to make us aware of its social and political effects. Because the personal aspect is political, just like feminist vindications raised back in the 70s. By exposing and implicating themselves publicly with the reality, which discredit them politically and put them down, this women are demonstrating personal ways of distorting this reality. They are challenging the anaesthetising nature of power structures; they are breaking down distance from the world and making it their battleground so that they themselves, their identity and security, are the first to be affected.

It only remains to say that the Pussy Riot trial is, in itself, an even more obscene performance than the very punk prayer they starred weeks before the 2012 Russian presidential elections on the altar of the Cathedral of Christ our Saviour, the most emblematic Moscow temple of the Russian Orthodox Church. Here and elsewhere, State repression is at the forefront, featuring in the most impressive provocative performances and this band of women has managed to demonstrate the authoritative essence of Putin's regime to the world.

In different texts, interviews and performances, Pussy Riot have declared themselves to be radical feminists and they recognise that the key to their actions is feminist criticism of Putin and the current Russian State. Contrary to his past, as a former KGB agent serving the communist and radically atheist regime, Putin allied himself to the Orthodox Church to come to power in 2000. He makes it is aware that the Church is part of national tradition, a vestige of the Tsar era, whilst also recognising the prominent power that it has recovered since the fall of the Soviet Union, as the institution currently boasting the largest congregation in Russia.

Since 2006 and particularly during 2012, under the influence of the Orthodox Church, the Russian government has been progressively changing local laws to prohibit the promotion of "non traditional sexual relations" so that information on homosexuality is punished, just like any idea or slogan that claims rights for the LGBT collective and its social recognition. This change in regulations is behind a large number of attacks on the LGTB collective in the street that go unpunished. In addition, the Church has declared itself to be openly against liberal democracy, feminism and same-sex marriage, among other things.

Some people consider that the Pussy Riot phenomenon forms part of the media activism subculture and others think it is an actionist movement in art. It is clear that the media and Internet culture in Russia is giving rise to activism. After the USSR was dissolved and the series of economic, social and ecological catastrophes that followed it, in a context marked by constitutional crisis, the default of '98, economic "shock therapy", and two Chechen wars, among other factors, bring general depoliticization spread throughout society and provoked mistrust of any form of public politics. The majority of the Russian population submissively plunged into the pleasures of consumption and their private life during the so-called "Putin stability." In this context, popular social networks are used as tactical media for mobilisation, information, agitation and for sharing ideas among activists. This was how Pussy Riot emerged, as an initiative started by a few activists from a street art group Voina that other women joined afterwards.

As conceptual artists, Pussy Riot are artist who embody an Idea, That's why they wear balaclavas: masks of deindividualisation, of liberating anonymity. The message of their balaclava is that it does not matter which of them is present because their actions are not representative of individuals but of an idea. And that is where the potential and the threat lie. It might be easy to arrest a human being but it impossible to imprison an idea.

"Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer to shape it" (Bertolt Brech)

Film: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

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