The Saatchi Gallery Celebrate Russian Protest With Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism
We often find ourselves attracted to rebellious sorts – hell, we dedicated our last issue, REBEL HEART, to just that – celebrating the people who choose their way or no way. But we’ll admit it – no one quite flies the flag of insurrection and protest quite like the Russians, and this latest exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery is evidence of that. Marking the centenary since the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in St Petersburg and declared an end to the autocratic rule of the Tsar, Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism is dedicated to the last twenty-five years of Russian protest art. A chance coincidence? I think not. The two periods have been sewn together for this show to emphasise that many of the same problems faced by those artists in 1917, continue to inhibit and suppress the work of present day artists featured in this show. But while the political regimes have in many ways restricted creativity and the arts, their authoritarian rule has also shaped and fuelled them.
Take for example, Pyotr Pavlensky, the famed public protest artist who takes a no-half measures approach to his own, very particular, form of actionsim. Among a few of Pavlensky’s exploits; sewing his mouth shut in protest against the incarceration of punk group ‘Pussy Riot’ (also featured in the show), sitting naked on Red Square, and, to quote Wikipedia, “hammering a large nail through his scrotum affixing it to the stone pavement,” and cutting part of his own ear off whilst sat naked on the roof of the infamous Serbsky Centre in protest of the governments abuse of psychiatric detention in Russia. As I said, no half measures. Also featured are the brilliantly subversive films of Pussy Riot, whose public performances and anti-Putin, pro feminist rhetoric attracted world wide media attention, and Oleg Kulik, the Ukrainian-born artist who takes on the roles of animals to protest what he sees as a crisis in contemporary culture.
And, since performance is such a central theme to the work exhibited, the award-winning theatre group Les Enfant Terribles, in collaboration with Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, will present an immersive theatre experience that will take place during the exhibition’s run at Saatchi Gallery.
Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism is on at the Saatchi Gallery from 16th November to 31st December 2017
Inside Pussy Riot is on from 14th November to 24th December with tickets available for £21.50
Images, from top:
Oleg Kulik, Horses of Bretagne, 1988
Pussy Riot, Punk Prayer, 2012
www.saatchigallery.com / www.insidepussyriot.com