Self Mutilation In Performance Art

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Putin’s Russia and performance art: Self-mutilation as a political statement 1. Introduction Throughout history, the Russian government has oppressed any opposition and thus political protest. However, in recent years, protest movements have started to spread in Russia. As the regime still supresses its people, art developed into one of the main means of protest, resulting in a lively scene of several artists criticising political life. The extreme rigour Putin applies to any opposition has forced artists to take extremer measures as they feel traditional ways of uttering discomfort are not sufficient anymore. They are striving for a more open Russia, notwithstanding the fact that their protest has not been fruitful. Yet, political protest…show more content…
From the empire of the tsars to the early Soviet Union, Stalinism and the Brezhnew era, freedom of speech was mostly no issue to politics. However, since the breakdown of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Russia has started to open up slowly. Officially called a democracy, Putin has nevertheless managed to re-establish a Russia reminiscent of the Soviet Union. After his election in 2000, Putin administered a “new media policy” (Russian Politics under Putin, p133) to achieve one goal; namely, to increase state control over the media and keep them from criticising him. As claimed by Laura Belin, “the tendency towards less pluralism and more self-censorship has become more pronounced with time” (Russian Politics under Putin, 133). In recent years, Russian democracy has become scarce, as Putin is purposefully following his “strategy of de-democratization” (Putin and Putinism, 45). Another important factor for this on-going “de-democratization” is “the friendly passivity of the [m]asses” (46), which means that Putin’s politics were supported by politicians as well as society. The passivity, however, is changing. People are increasingly getting conscious of what is actually happening and are longing for change. The many protest movements and performances lately in Russia seem to underline this. Yet, the Russian government forcefully tries to silence those uttering concern. The treatment of Pussy Riot after one of…show more content…
Pavlensky’s critique on the role of the Orthodox Church People are staring at him, yet they are not shocked by his sewing his mouth shut. In various other performances he was much more brutal. People in Russia know him and his tendency towards self-mutilation. Most disturbing for them is the reference to the Bible that Pavlensky used. Orthodoxy constitutes a tremendously important part of the Russian identity. The verse he refers to is Mt. 21:12-13. “12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers’”

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