On 16 November 2017, the Tsukanov Family Foundation and Saatchi Gallery will open Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism, an exhibition dedicated to Post-Soviet protest art over the past 25 years, a world premier for protest artists Pussy Riot and Pyotr Pavlensky. Alongside this exhibition, award-winning theatre group Les Enfant Terribles will present Inside Pussy Riot, a ground-breaking immersive theatre experience including performances by founding Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova.
Taking place 100 years after the Russian Revolution, Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism explores issues such as challenges to individual freedom of expression in the face of both political ideology and religion. While it does not have direct links to the Revolution, many of the problems that artists face in Russia today are comparable to those in 1917, such as persisting government censorship and police intervention.
The exhibition will feature work by performance artists including Oleg Kulik, Pussy Riot, Pyotr Pavlensky, Blue Noses Art Group, Arsen Savadov, AES + F, Vasily Slonov, and will display various genres and types of protest art, from posters and slogans to video art, staged photography and performances. These practices are in response to a crisis where artists face shrinking freedom yet have an even more urgent need for expression.
Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism raises crucial questions about artistic freedom, exploring what it means to be an artist in the Post-Soviet Union today. Curated by Marat Guelman, it marks the fourth exhibition presented by the Tsukanov Family Foundation in partnership with Saatchi Gallery. Previous blockbuster shows of this cooperation were Breaking the Ice: Moscow Art, 1960-80s (2012-2013), Post-Pop: East Meets West (2014-2015) and Revelations (2016).
As part of Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism, Tsukanov Family Foundation has teamed up with the award-winning theatre group Les Enfant Terribles and Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova to present Inside Pussy Riot, a breakthrough immersive theatre experience that will take place during the exhibition’s run at Saatchi Gallery.
Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist protest punk-rock group founded in 2011. The group staged unauthorised performances in unusual public places, such as the Red Square and Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which were then made into music videos and distributed via social media networks. The collective’s lyrical themes included feminism, LGBT rights, and opposition to the oppressive policy of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2012 two of the group members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were arrested and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
The production tells the story of Pussy Riot’s arrest and imprisonment following their 2012 performance inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Two of the group’s members Maria Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova were convicted of “hooliganism” and sentenced to 2 years in a labour colony, rising to worldwide notoriety as a result and becoming a symbol of defiance.
Inside Pussy Riot runs from Tuesday 14th November – Sunday 24th December. For more information and to book tickets visit http://www.insidepussyriot.com/
About the Artists:
Oleg Kulik ranks among the most interesting and controversial Russian artists. He has managed to attract the attention of art critics and exhibition curators by his performance shows, which are characterised by “strong expression” where he himself assumes a role of “artist-animal”. In these performances Kulik becomes a dog, a bird, a fish, and a bull, simplifying his performance language to the basic emotional vocabulary of an animal.
Pyotr Pavlensky practises actionism, an art form with a rich history in Russia. He calls his particular brand of actionism “political art”, and since emerging in the public eye in 2012 has produced a string of profound performances. Pavlensky sewed his mouth shut (‘Stitch’); rolled naked in barbed wire (‘Carcass’); sat naked on Red Square and nailed his scrotum to the cobblestones as a metaphor for the “apathy, political indifference and fatalism” of modern Russian society (‘Fixation’); and set the doors of the Russian Security Services (FSB) headquarters on fire (‘Threat’).
About the Tsukanov Family Foundation:
The Tsukanov Family Foundation (“TFF”) is a UK charity supporting the education of talented children from the Former Soviet Union countries. It extends scholarships to a number of the leading schools in the UK, including Eton College, St Paul’s Girls’ School, the Royal College of Music, and the schools of Alpha Plus Group.
TFF has worked for years with leading Russian museums, including the Tretyakov Gallery (for which the Foundation has financed acquisitions on an annual basis), the Moscow Multimedia Art Museum and Moscow Museum of Modern Art. TFF owns one of the world’s largest collections of post-war Russian art.
The Foundation’s other affiliations include the National Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) and the Royal Opera House.