Swearbots, Pussy Riot, and a glimpse Out of Time

Admittedly, from the Western perspective, things have been a bit rocky in Russia lately. (In a piece for the New Republic, satirical bloggers Kermlin suggested giving up optimism and instead start placing bets on the worst possible outcomes, as either way you’re a winner.) Manifesta has had to make fresh assurances that their show is going on (though Pavel Althamer has followed Chto Delat‘s lead in dropping out), even as the Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky gave the world the headline-ready quote: “People in general hate contemporary art. In Russia – Russia is in general more conservative than the other countries – but all over the world contemporary art is not something which is considered to be good together with the normal art, the Old Masters.”

Beware The Swearbots

E.T.I.'s action on the Red Square, April 18, 1991

E.T.I.’s action on the Red Square, April 18, 1991

On April 23, 2014, the Russian government announced that soon bloggers who garner a readership of 3000 are more – and remember, this is a country where Livejournal is still thriving – will be now considered press, which means they are now subject to the same regulations and liabilities as official press. In short, this means they can be censored. And as a first step to that censorship, Putin has announced that as of May 1, authors of works of art (including film and literature) can be fined for the usage of obscenity. This expands a similar law that passed last April, banning obscenity from media (but let’s keep in mind that the “media” now includes personal blogs.)

The law is reputedly intended to help cultivate and protect the Russian language, which is, paradoxically, quite revered for the scale and scope of its curse words. According to The Moscow Times, however, there is actually only a short list that’s been banned. They refer to what was probably the best government panel ever, reporting:

In December 2013, the Institute of Russian Language at the Russian Academy of Sciences complied a list of four words that constitute swearing and will thus be banned. Two depict male and female reproductive organs, one describes the process of copulation and the last refers to a promiscuous woman.

(You can read the full article here.)

For its part, the BBC reports, ominously, that the policy will be enforced by “Swearbots.” Swearbots, sweeeeeaaarrr! (Sorry, we had to.)

But, in deference to our fair Swearbots, we have relegated the incredibly important history behind the illustrating image in this one link. We suggest you check it out.

OUT OF TIME

A still from "NEVREMYA," the latest collaboration of Antonina Baever, Valentin Diaconov and Dima Venkov

A still from “NEVREMYA,” the latest collaboration of Antonina Baever, Valentin Diaconov and Dima Venkov

On a more uplifting (in a dark, cynical way) note, Antonina Baever, Valentin Diaconov and Dima Venkov have once more joined forces to produce another episode of their satirical news show. This one – Nevremya, something like “OUT OF TIME,” but in the sense of dislocation, not allotment – is framed as a report from future times, when Russian art is enjoying a Renaissance. Segments include a cameo by the ZIP Group, who play the army’s special forces, an elite division trained to ruthlessly churn out meaningless exhibitions and even more meaningless press statements. We particularly enjoyed a one-on-one with artist Valery Chtak, who wonders out loud how one is supposed to make art after Pussy Riot. It’s in Russian, alas, but those who can, enjoy:

 

Pussy Riot talks Zone of Rights at the Frieze Art Fair

Maria Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova in Washington DC, May 6, 2014.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova in Washington DC, May 6, 2014.

Speaking of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova were back in the headlines after yesterday’s visit to Washington, DC, where they urged the US to keep applying pressure to Putin.  Next stop on the tour? The Frieze Art Fair, where this Friday, the pair will sit down for a chat with the New Yorker‘s David Remnick. Considering that they famously swore off art earlier this year, we can expect that the focus will be on Zone of Rights, their prison advocacy program.

In related news, New York Magazine reports that the women will participate in the First Supper Symposium in Oslo, a seminar on feminist protest art that will feature the participation of noted theorist Judith Butler, whom they hope to take back with them to Russia to conduct a similar symposium there.

While many Russian women are feminists, Nadya explained, they don’t identify as such because of a lack of access to feminist theory. “We had a very strong tradition [of feminism] during our revolution in 1917, and after that we had a really strong feminist movement, but it was crushed by Stalin, and after that there is no feminist theory in Russia,” she said. “But of course, because we are in touch with the East [and] women see that they can be good businesswomen and scientists, they do it, but they don’t recognize themselves like feminists because there is no theory.”

[Find the full article here.]

We’re very intrigued to see this conversation happening now, of all times (though secretly, we realize this context makes its impossible to comment on the women’s noticeably new looks.)

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2 Responses to Swearbots, Pussy Riot, and a glimpse Out of Time

  1. Pingback: That Time for Dreams Again? Young Biennale, Kabakovs in Paris, and Koenig expresses doubts on Manifesta | Baibakov Art Projects

  2. Pingback: Время мечтать: Молодое искусство, Кабаковы в Париже и Манифеста | Baibakov Art Projects

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