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The artists who crossed the line
March 29, 2011 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Voina are a group of revolutionary artists. The most controversial of all was Voina's final stunt before the arrests, which the artists called "Palace Revolution". Members overturned seven police cars, some of them with officers inside, at St Petersburg's Palace Square one night last September. Obviously, a group called "war," is going to attract a certain amount of controversy, but they're also going to attract some allies. Right now, they're just trying to dodge the fuzz. Who knows? Maybe they're just dicks.
posted by snottydick (18 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Over the past three years, the group's installations and performances have included organising the mock execution of migrant workers in a Moscow supermarket, an impromptu expletive-filled punk rock performance in a courtroom, throwing live cats at McDonald's cashiers and painting an enormous penis on a bridge in St Petersburg.... The penis "erected", directly facing the St Petersburg headquarters of the FSB, the KGB's successor. The group called the artwork Dick Captured by KGB.


Now this I can get behind. Bravo!
posted by Hoopo at 11:44 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where do they get off calling themselves artists? That penis they drew is barely bathroom-stall quality.
posted by rocket88 at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2011


An in-depth article and the Free Voina blog established when half the group was arrested.

Penis pranks or not, I think their art is so important precisely because it's bluntly political in a place like Russia where society is becoming increasingly totalitarian, racist, homophobic and unequal. It really makes a mockery of the ridiculous both-sides-to-a-story reporting in the Independent article and Reuters report. "Or is it, as one person claims, 'Just the work of freaks'?" Why yes, intrepid journalist, let's hear about that anonymous, unsourced and decontextualized perspective some more!
posted by dustyasymptotes at 11:53 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Where do they get off calling themselves artists? That penis they drew is barely bathroom-stall quality.

I assumed it was supposed to be a crude gesture, btu also the article makes it pretty clear it was hastily put together under less-than ideal circumstances: "Evading and fighting off security, the 65-metre high image was completed just before the bridge opened, as it does each evening to let ships pass through"
posted by Hoopo at 11:56 AM on March 29, 2011


Where do they get off calling themselves artists? That penis they drew is barely bathroom-stall quality.

Concept > technique.
posted by girih knot at 11:57 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm so glad that these guys don't exist here in the U.S. Can you imagine the uproar here on Metafilter if some American anarchists threw public sex parties and overturned police cars? OH GOD SOMEBODY ARREST THEM SAVE US FROM THEIR NAKED BODIES AND POLICE-CAR TIPPING!!!!

All the good little liberals would be falling over themselves to lick these people up and throw away the key. And that's here in America. Imagine how much harder they must have it over there? I feel for those kids...
posted by Avenger at 12:14 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


*lock these people up. Although lick is good too.
posted by Avenger at 12:16 PM on March 29, 2011


There was sarcasm in my earlier comment, but I do think that throwing cats at minimum wage slaves just because of where they work crosses the line between art and idiocy.
The rest of the stuff is relatively benign.
posted by rocket88 at 12:29 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can you imagine the uproar here on Metafilter if some American anarchists threw public sex parties and overturned police cars?

We already discussed American anarchists last week. I find it hard to think of overturning occupied cars as artistic freedom.
Maybe it's just a problem if sports fans do it. They would get better press if they just described it as art.
posted by MtDewd at 12:37 PM on March 29, 2011


I object to trowing cats myself. Artists should ideally only throw less intelligent creatures, like scorpions. I'd expect however they'd claim the cat goes better with the overall brutality of Russia, but surely they could've compromised on a nice snake.

A more artistic solution might be hiding smelly bags of feces all over the McDonald's. A little poop smeared all over the undersides of tables and chairs might escape the first couple cleaning attempts.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:45 PM on March 29, 2011


I just picture calling someone in the Milita, circa 1986, "Fuzz".

cool post.
posted by clavdivs at 12:57 PM on March 29, 2011


Hm. I am reminded of an incident in the 1970s, an unlicensed dissident art exhibit was raided by the Soviet authorities, the army came in and tore the artwork down, dragged it into the street, and stomped it to pieces.

A blurry picture of the soldiers destroying the exhibit was smuggled out. I remember seeing the photo in the National Lampoon, with a little speech balloon over one of the soldiers, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like to stomp into the mud."
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:18 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do think that throwing cats at minimum wage slaves just because of where they work crosses the line between art and idiocy.

Apparently it was nothing personal, or even particular to McDonald's:

"Other Voina actions include...celebrating International Workers' Day by throwing live cats through the counters in a McDonald's restaurant "to break up the drudgery of workers' routine day""

I admit I do at times thoroughly enjoy idiocy though.
posted by Hoopo at 1:29 PM on March 29, 2011


Voina's art may not be subtle or original, but then neither is the Russian State. It is art born of political necessity and those involved are taking real personal risks. For these reasons I find it much more admirable than most of what passes for art in Western Europe and the US.
posted by johnny novak at 1:59 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Voina - How to Snatch a Chicken, 2010. (NSFW)
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 2:38 PM on March 29, 2011


Mr Plutser-Sarno, 48, said he left the apartment where the other group members were arrested the day before the raid and has been on the run ever since.

Interesting detail.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:05 PM on March 29, 2011


I remember reading an interview with between a curator and a gallerist. And no, not all gallerists are blood-sucking sociopaths, some are also very intelligent with very good taste. So, in this interview the curator says something to the effect of "I know it's really good if I look at it and I just fucking hate it."

To my mind that applies here perfectly. These are stupid, sophmoric, poorly-drawn...

wait, that reminds me, I don't know the first thing about what it is to live in Russia. Maybe I should find out more about Russia.

Something going on here, in this art, is important.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:28 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I started off thinking "Why pick on the McDonald's employees?", too. Then I imagined how I would feel working as a cashier at McDonalds if some crazy artist came in and threw one or more cats at me. I'm down for that. I mean, Jesus, what a boring fucking job; at least I'd be entertained and bemused for a day. McDonalds: NEEDZ MOAR CATZ.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:18 PM on March 30, 2011


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