Kremlin site of extreme form of protest by performance artist

Added by on November 13, 2013

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Performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky after he nailed his scrotum to a cobblestone at the Kremlin’s Red Square on Russia’s Police Day in protest of the country’s “movement towards a police state”

In a symbolic protest Pyotr Pavlensky, a Russian performance artist, nailed his scrotum to the cobblestones of Russia’s Kremlin, and remained attached to Red Square for one-and-a-half hours before he was removed by police.

In an interview with the artist after he was released from custody, and after being treated in a local clinic, he said, “We are now going through a period in my experience and in my opinion, [of] quite an unpleasant situation of moving towards a Police State.”

Pavlensky continued using an example of funding cuts to the Academy of Sciences while, according to him, law enforcement agencies and security forces are seeing “replenishment of funding“.

“This is a vector in the direction of a police state. The people allow this to happen. What is happening now-political indifference,” added Pavlensky.

Pavlensky called his performance “Fixation” and during the performance he remained still, looking down at his scrotum having a large nail through it and reaching a cobblestone in Red Square. The artist said he wanted to demonstrate a “fixation on helplessness” brought about by “apathy, political indifference and fatalism of the modern Russian society”.

Pavlensky describes his performance in contrast to politically-motivated drawings or paintings which he says are only “reaching only a narrow community.” He says his motivation is, in part, to make his message available to the broader public.

In the interview Pavlensky said he was expecting a negative reaction:

“If I had been expecting a positive reaction to the facts behind this message by all praising and patting me on the head, it would be a cheap case of populism. If the response is negative – it’s also a reaction. People are reflecting on what and why a person would do this. I’m talking about fixation on helplessness, because for me the important message that was from this was the act of just sitting and watching while attached to the Kremlin pavement.”

Pavlensky, 29, has previously used extreme forms of performance art in protest, yet many say this is his most extreme so far.

Pavlensky’s action comes on Russia’s Police Day, a holiday that was established in 1962 to celebrate professionalism and their sense of duty. On a previous Police Day, Russian President Putin praised the police force adding that they are “good examples to follow in terms of decency and integrity”.