Before we celebrate the New Year, we wanted to take a minute and commend some of the recent events in Moscow and Russia. 2011 has sparked incredible shifts within the country and the attitude of its citizens towards their government, and, true to the Russian legacy, artists have been some of the major instigators of this change.
As of this moment, the protests in favor of fair elections show no sign of letting up, and rightfully so: according to statistics pulled together by Julia Ioffe, almost 14 million of the 65 million votes have been deemed “questionable.” For their part, protests have been remarkably peaceful; as Ksenia Sobchak’s surprisingly (“surprising,” only in so much as it comes from a woman insistently-dubbed “Russia’s Paris Hilton”, at a time when the rest of the world has already forgotten who Paris Hilton is) smart slogan goes: “We are not fighting for power, but for what influences power.” Others, including fresh folk hero, Alexey Navalny, have taken another spin, confident enough to declare this “The End of Putin.”
The protests bring a fresh chance for Russian artists to take put their theory in practice. While this has long been a staple for artist-groups like Chto Delat? (who have been documenting the protests with English language updates on their website), it’s still new territory for a lot of the younger artists, whose earlier forays into politics have amounted to little more than window dressing for social networking sites.
For her part, artist-activist Taus Makhacheva (featured in this year’s Moscow Biennale and nominated for the 2011 Kandinsky Prize for Media Art for her work, Bullet) has seized the moment to comment on the specific attitudes towards Russia’s continued racism towards the Caucauses. In a rousing speech delivered during the meeting on Saturday, December 24, Taus led a group of supporters in chanting. “I don’t want to be afraid anymore!” You can find video (in Russian) here.
As the protests continue, we will continue watching them with hope for the Russia of 2012. We will resume normal posting after the holidays. In the meantime, we wish all of our readers a happy and safe New Year.