So, we have to hand it to Peter Pavlensky. Yesterday, he gave the international coverage of the Russian art world some of its best headlines yet when he nailed his testicles to the ground in Red Square, as a vivid analogy of “life in a police state.” In a statement he issued to accompany the act, he reasons that “A naked artist, looking at his balls nailed to the Kremlin pavement, is a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference, and fatalism of contemporary Russian society.”
This isn’t the art-penis on Red Square (we’re looking at you, Moscow Conceptualism), nor is it the first we’ve heard from Pavlensky. We first wrote about the young Petersburg performance artist in July 2012, when he sewed his lips together in support of Pussy Riot. This September, Pavlensky also led nine artists in a failed attempt at stirring up controversy on the steps of the Hermitage, where he launched his “Political Propaganda” exhibition. Engineered to incite police to Instagrammable action, the happening ended with the officers just offering to help the artists pack up their stuff and the international press not even flinching. But with one’s balls on the line, well, let’s just say our inbox is full of different phrasings of “who is this guy?!”
According to latest updates, Pavlensky was treated briefly for his injuries, questioned at a police station and then released. Bystanders said the so-called “shock artist” seemed somewhat taken aback himself to find he could walk away from the courthouse without being charged, but perhaps Russia has learned from the Pussy Riot affair after all?
You can read about Pavlensky’s Pussy Riot action here.