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There's a Pussy Riot exhibition opening this week

There's a Pussy Riot exhibition opening this week
Pussy Riot

It’s the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, so the Saatchi Gallery is putting on a show of contemporary Russian protest art. Here’s our guide to the three main featured artists

1 The ones who make noise
Pussy Riot shoved Russian protest art right in everyone’s faces back in 2012 when they performed illegally in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The performance was intended as an attack on the clergy’s support for Putin, and it kicked up a serious stink. Three of the group’s members were convicted of hooliganism and their imprisonment made them international art superstars. Pussy Riot formed in 2011 from the ashes of another protest art group, Voina, and the church gig was just one headline-grabber in a series of guerrilla protest actions by the collective. They’re still up to their shenanigans today, and whether you see it as music, performance or art, they probably don’t care, they just want you to pay attention.

 

The one who play acts
Life’s a bitch, especially if you’re Oleg Kulik, who spends his performances pretending to be a dog. He’s sort of the elder statesman of contemporary Russian protest art, being a good few decades older than the members of Pussy Riot et al, and he helped set the stage for the younger cats. Kulik became disillusioned with the state of Russian society as it transitioned from the Soviet era to capitalism, so by inhabiting the persona of a dog or other animals he manages to fuse man and beast but also pass comment on, like, oppression and stuff, man. Cool.

 

The one who hurts himself
You might not know his name, but you’ll know what he’s done. Pyotr Pavlensky is the guy who nailed his nuts to Red Square. Ow and wow. That’s not the only painful political action he’s undertaken: he’s sewn his mouth shut, sliced off his earlobe and wrapped himself in barbed wire too. He’s also set fire to things, like the door of the Russian Federal Security Services and an office of the Bank of France in Paris. He must really hate overdraft charges. ν Eddy Frankel

‘Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism’ at the Saatchi Gallery until Dec 31. Free. You can get reduced £15 tickets to the ‘Inside Pussy Riot’ immersive theatre experience at the Saatchi Gallery here.

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