LBGT HISTORY MONTH 2022
Words kindly written and shared by Dean Fudge
Politics in Art: The arc is long
‘Everything interesting begins with conflict.’
Pussy Riot was a collective of fifteen Russian Feminist Punk Activists. Initially they were entirely anonymous wearing brightly coloured balaclavas to conceal their identity.
The group staged guerrilla-style protest performances, combining angry punk music with anti-Putin lyrics and attention-grabbing theatrical stunts.
In 2012, a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour saw them thrashing about to a ‘Punk Prayer’ containing the lyrics, ‘Birth-giver of God, drive away Putin!’ The spectacle was halted by the church security team within a minute.
Three of the women were arrested: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova; Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich.
Their trial caught the world’s attention with Amnesty deeming them Prisoners of Conscience. Despite this they were sent to prison for ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.’ They endured separation from their children, forced labour and solitary confinement.
They were released three months before Russia hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Pussy Riot is no longer a collective. Its name lives on with Tolokonnikova operating solo. At an interview given in North Carolina in 2018 Tolokonnikova affirmed Pussy Riot’s support of Trans Rights saying:
‘…we believe you don’t actually have to have a vagina or clitoris to be a woman, and having a clitoris doesn’t necessarily make you a woman. So, it’s more about supporting groups of people who are traditionally called minorities…’