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Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot Collective Open Statement Release, Feb 6, 2014
(English version via Global RevolutionOriginal Russian version here)

We, the anonymous participants of Pussy Riot, would like to say a huge thank you to all who supported us during this time, those who demanded the release of our participants, those who sympathized with us and share our ideology. We are very grateful to you all, we deeply appreciate and have respect of everyone who contributed to the overall support of the collective of Pussy Riot in this difficult period of time for us.

And our efforts were not in vain: Putin still had to bend to the pressure of international public opinion and give freedom to Nadya and Masha.

So, on 23 of December was for us a real treat — Liberation Day of prisoners of conscience and the victory of the freedom of the entire collective of Pussy Riot.

But Amnesty is certainly not the limit of our dreams. We demand justice – the complete abolition of the sentence and the recognition of the illegal case against Pussy Riot. And we hope that the restoration of justice happens February 21 – the anniversary of our fervent words stated inside the CCS with the song “Dear Mary, Mother of God, Chase Putin Away, Banish Him!”.

We are very excited about the release of Masha and Nadya. We are proud of their resistance against the harsh trials that they endured, their determination by all means and continuation of struggle began during their stay in the colonies.

Unfortunately for us, they are so deeply involved with the problems in Russian prisons, they seemed to completely forgot about the aspirations and ideals of our group: feminism, separatist resistance struggle against authoritarianism and the cult of personality, because they have faced this unjust punishment.

It’s no secret that Masha and Nadya have left the group, and will no longer be joining in on actions. Now they are engaged in a new project. Now they are protecting the rights of prisoners.

And as many of you know, human rights is incompatible with radical political statements and provocative art-works that raises the conflict topics in contemporary society. As well as, gender conformity is not compatible with radical feminism.

Human rights work cannot afford to be in a spotlight of criticism under rules and regulations that underlie the modern devices of a patriarchal society, because it is an institutional part of society and may not go beyond the established rules within.

Yes we lost two friends, two ideological fellow members, but the world has acquired two brave, interesting, controversial human rights defenders – fighters for the rights of prisoners in Russian prisons.

Unfortunately, we can not congratulate them with this event in person because they refuse to have any contact with us in our World. But we look on at their choice and sincerely wish them success in their new endeavors.

At the moment we are seeing an outrageous conflict for us also:
on the one hand Nadya and Masha now have huge media attention and attention of the international community, they can give their public opinion at press conference to a crowd of journalists, people hear each word, but so far no one hears them and what they say.

In almost every interview they repeat that they have left the group, they no longer represent Pussy Riot, and are acting on their own behalf and that they would no longer pursue provocative art actions etc. But article headlines so far appear with the name of the group, all of their public appearances announces them as Pussy Riot and announcements of withdrawal by them is interpreted as termination of the activities of the entire group of Pussy Riot, ignoring the fact that at the pulpit and solea there were not two but five women wearing Balaclavas and at the initial meeting was our full participants of eight.

The conclusions of misunderstandings was the announcement of their acceptance speech for Amnesty International as the first legal performance of Pussy Riot in a concert at the Barklay Center in New York, which in itself is simply outrageous, after all, everyone knows that Pussy Riot never speaks at legal concert venues, with a preliminary advertisement of appearance.

In addition, on the Billboard of the event, instead of the names of Nadya and Masha was an image of a man in a balaclava with and electric guitar and under the inscription Pussy Riot and organizers cleverly advertised for people to buy expensive tickets.

All this is contrary to the principles of the Pussy Riot:
*We are a women’s separatist group, so a man can not be representative of on a Billboard or in real life;
*We are left anti-capitalist ideology and therefore we never take money for views of works, all performance clips are distributed free of charge on the Internet and audience performances are always done by seemingly random people and more importantly, we do not sell tickets to a “show”.
*Only illegal irregular appearances and performances in unexpected places, not at expected and intended for actions in public places and share pieces and clips of actions – on open public sources.

We are anonymous because we oppose the cult of personality, against the emerging hierarchy, including on the grounds of external data, age or other social characteristics. We cover our faces because we are against the use of a woman’s face as a brand for the promotion of any goods or services.

Combining the image of a protest feminist punk band and law-abiding defenders spoils the image both for us and the new role of Nadya and Masha.

So hear them finally!

Please treat them with respect for their choice.

Since we now find ourselves with Nadya and Masha on opposite sides, disconnect us. Remember, we’re not Nadya and Masha, they are no longer Pussy Riot.

The Collective, “Free Pussy Riot” has ended and now we, as a collective provocative artist group, have the ethical right to preserve art practice, name and visual identity apart from other organizations.

Anonymous Pussy Riot:
Cat, Garaja, Fara, Puck, Seraph and Shumaker”
Blog of the feminist punk band PUSSY RIOT: February 6th, 2014, posted 02:59 am

[ originally posted on http://opineseason.com/2013/10/29/open-letter-to-the-walker-arts-center-12-years-a-slave-steve-mcqueen]

Open Letter to The Walker Art Center
October 29, 2013

By Chaun Webster, Jeremiah Bey Ellison, Arianna Genis, Shannon Gibney and Valerie Deus

To Whom It May Concern at The Walker Art Center,

We have learned that on October 30 The Walker Art Center will be showing the film, 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen, and followed by a talk with the director on Nov 9. This film is perhaps one of the most honest and visceral visual representations of the horrors that were part and parcel of the institution of slavery. Furthermore from the beginning, 12 Years a Slave has been, from its firsthand account, to the writer, to the director and leading actor, one of the most highly recognized, fully Black cinematic collaborations in the history of film.

We are concerned that though this film is being shown, that peoples of African descent, whose ancestors’ lives and histories were disrupted by the slaveocracy, will be largely underrepresented in the audience. Our position is that equity is not just about the diversity in the art being shown but the material work of creating greater access to exhibitions to ensure that audiences are representative of the subject matter.

We understand that these events were publicized to members of The Walker and on The Walker’s website. As you may or may not know, when marketing strategies are limited in media and points of origin, the race, class, gender and other layers of social location are also limited.

Within the Walker Art Center’s Mission Statement the institution is described as “a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences” and having programs which “examine the questions that shape and inspire us as individuals, cultures and communities.” Which communities do you seek to inspire and what questions do you seek to examine with the creative expression of artists?

Over the years we have become acutely aware of the way that art institutions are guided by an exceptionalism that will welcome works of art by select artists of African descent and other historically marginalized groups but will largely have little to no relationship with members of those communities. This in no small way contributes to the issue of representative audiences.

Representative audiences insure that narratives are not placed in a vacuum where art institutions can be absolved of responsibility to the cultures and traditions that those stories come from. When white-dominated spaces, often of a homogenous class, bring work like McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave in, they in many ways manage the narrative and the way that it gets interpreted. In these spaces the participant/viewers are freed of any responsibility, social or otherwise, to historically marginalized groups and in so doing re-inscribe the roles of colonialism in art production, distribution, and consumption. In other words, in this case, African art can be present and maybe even a few “exceptional” African artists, but by and large African bodies are unwelcome.

In light of all of this we are calling on The Walker Arts Center to recognize their exclusive practice of not intentionally involving historically marginalized groups at the table for this occasion. This recognition can in part take the form of publishing this letter as an addendum to the material circulated at the screening of 12 Years a Slave and director talk.

We urge The Walker to open up more ticket space for both the screening and the discussion with Steve McQueen. This ticket space would be freely given to reputable organizations of our choice that work with underrepresented youth.

We urge The Walker to arrange another screening and talk with the director that we would host in a community space of our choosing.

Lastly we are calling on The Walker to host a panel discussion at The Walker where we can convene a public conversation on art and social responsibility as it relates to the artist and art institutions.

The tremendous contributions of Africans, on the continent, in the United States, and other parts of the diaspora cannot be understated. These contributions stand in chorus with that of other historically marginalized groups whose communities continue to be denied access to tables carved from their own wood.

The Walker can serve a role in equity as it relates to the production, distribution, and consumption of art in the Twin Cities, but that will require a resolve to listen to its diverse constituents who represent a variety of cultural and ideological perspectives. We write this not as disgruntled individuals wanting access to one event. We write this as a collective who are asserting their voice to hold the institutions in their community accountable to a higher responsibility of service. It is our belief that this is not only possible but imperative as we move forward.

 

 

Letter from OWS Arts & Labor’s Alternative Economies Group posted on Embros website along with others like Raoul Vaneigem and Jenny Marketou. It goes without saying that any government that seeks to criminalize and arrest artist along with members from the supporting community is a government that should be declared illegal and it’s acts of repression should be condemned. For culture is the one thing in life that requires nothing and gives everything. And perhaps this is one of the most threatening aspect of art which governments seek to crush within its citizen.  Furthermore it is through cultural platforms like Embros that the people and culture will persist in this transitional anti-capitalist period of Athenian history as well as in other parts of the world…

 

Letter in Support of Embros  from Arts & Labor Alternative Economies
November 12, 2013, New York

We stand in solidarity with the Embros Theater community and condemn the persecution of the two performers arrested for rehearsing in the theater on October 31, 2013.  All charges brought against these individuals should be dropped and their court cases should be dismissed. [1]

Artists Against The Police State

The work that is currently being done at Embros embodies some of the most fundamental aspects of fostering a creative and responsive cultural space in which alternatives to the current system can be explored [2]. In this time of urgency and economic crisis around the world, Embros is forging new directions that should be enthusiastically supported and celebrated by the local and national government rather than aggressively repressed and threatened.

Culture is a basic sign of being alive, a space of reflection and growth, and most importantly it is the place where the processes that define democracy such as freedom of speech,  expression, and criticality, is apparent in more ways than a set of law books can ever describe. Governments from Russia to China, United States and Europe [3] seek to crush within its citizens the freedom of cultural expression. It has become apparent that the democratic, life-expressing aspects of art are being systematically repressed and commodified into pure spectacle and entertainment by these governments, institutional bureaucrats, and their capitalist cohorts. We will not stand-by as they reduce culture to an admission fee, VIP bonus, or something you can buy at the gift shop. We wish to dance, to perform, to visualize, to speak, all without being restricted by the amount of money we have or the so-called credentials and permits that these institutions have invented. Because for us, this is true freedom, this is true a democracy that no currency can equate.

Embros helps to provide much needed free and open community space that brings people from all walks of life together to learn, engage, and create. Therefore, we ask artists and communities around the world to look closely and continue to follow these events as you would a canary in a coal mine, so that we may provide support for artists and cultural spaces when similar events that arise. Furthermore, these instances should provide a lens to reflect on the situation in our cities and to better understand the mechanisms of cultural control, repression, cooptation, and exploitation so that we can continue, through this solidarity network, to expose and ultimately overcome this political, economic, and cultural crises that has become the marker of our times.

Arts and Labor Alternative Economies
Maria Juliana Byck, Emily Baierl, Antonio Serna and Laurel Ptak
www.whatdowedonow.info
www.artsandlabor.org/alternative-economies

[ photo above: Arts & Labor March in Solidarity with Quebec Students (March Against Anti-Protest Laws) and Protesting the Arrest of Takeshi Miyakawa (‘I (heart) NY’ light artist) May 22, 2012. Photo by: Stacy Lanyon]

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[1] Communique from Embros on the Arrest of 2 performers. October 30, 2013
www.embrostheater.blogspot.gr/2013/10/blog-post_31.html

[2] On October 19, 2013, as part of ‘What Do We Do Now?’ the first annual Alternatives Fair in New York City, we invited members of Embros Theater to participate in an international panel on autonomous spaces along with members from other autonomous spaces in Mexico. Through this panel we hoped to learn how autonomously run cultural spaces function to provide a more horizontal way to operate while remaining inclusive to all members in the community. From this exchange we learned how Embros’ organizing by way of a weekly general assembly has become a dynamic and invaluable community-run space in which creativity and innovation is encouraged to thrive.

‘What Do We Do Now? Alternative Fair’ was organized by Alternative Economies, a subgroup of OWS Arts and Labor. Alternative Economies working group explores alternative methods of sustaining the livelihood of artists, art-workers, and other communities interested in alternatives to the current system. We view the concept of labor through the lenses of time, choice, and value, and we research the ways that ideas like the commons, solidarity economies, precarious worker centers, and participatory budgeting can nurture more sustainable art worlds. Believing that vibrant creative communities come from the bottom up, we encourage relationships based on mutual aid rather than competition, and we advocate for cultural institutions rooted in a framework of social, economic, and environmental justice.

[3] Links to similar crack down on autonomous cultural spaces and artists:
- ZAM is Culture, Eviction of ZAM by Milan Police, May 2013
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2013/05/zam-e-cultura/
-Footage of Police Eviction of ZAM w/ minute by minute account, May 2013
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2013/05/zona-autonoma-milano-eviction-today
- Missing Pussy Riot Inmate Turns Up at a Tuberculosis Hospital, Nov 14, 2013
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/missing-pussy-riot-inmate-turns-up-at-a-tuberculosis-hospital-20131114
- Extreme show of force by of Swiss police at Basel, May 2013
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2013/06/artists-activists-make-art-come-alive
- “Art Makes Money” Communique from ‘Basel Will Be Occupied’ after the Art Basel raid:
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2013/06/communique-art-makes-money
-NY Police Arrest of artist in Brooklyn for Decorating the Street  “I (heart)nyc” bags, May 2012
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2012/05/ny-goes-hard-on-street-art/

October 16, 2013

Dear Suzanne Lacy, Nato Thompson, Catherine J. Morris and volunteers and staff of Brooklyn Museum and Creative Time,

We are artists, scholars, activists, feminists, wage laborers and mothers performing in Between the Door and the Street. While there are many merits to this piece, and we are hopeful about the public conversations we will engage in, we raise issue with the lack of payment for performers and the lack of childcare options for participating mothers.

As feminists, we believe not paying the 350 women participants perpetuates labor inequality, devalues women’s time and assumes that all women in this piece are financially able to volunteer time, energy, emotional and political content for free. We believe that assuming and relying on free/unpaid contributions of our time for your project continues to perpetuate a standard of capitalist economy that systematically underpays and disenfranchises us, and devalues our time, our bodies, our energies, our histories and our intellects through tactics such as “professionalization.” “volunteerism” and more. This is a mainstream standard that has never worked for us, and does not serve us now. A culture of “volunteerism” assumes that all participants have the means to volunteer and perpetuates the very real reality of poverty and scarcity for many artists and activists. Compensating us would address, in a small but important way, the material realities and economic oppressions impacting many of our lives.

As women who come from different socio-economic and racial backgrounds, we understand that not all activism can or should be paid. However, we do think that the arts community has an imperative to try harder to set a better standard of compensating women for their labor, and for practicing solidarity economies that support women’s participation instead of exploiting them. Additionally, we feel that poor public framing of the unpaid “volunteerism” and time commitments required for Between the Door and the Street create a high barrier to entry. Most of the women participating are non-profit professionals, or women attached to high-visibility non-profits discussing the prompt questions of: “who will take care of the nannies children?” but can the “nanny” bring her own children to this event and participate in an equitable manner, given that she will not be paid, and there will be no childcare? We think not.

We are familiar with, and respectful of Suzanne Lacy’s art, and it is in the spirit of compassionate solidarity and loving community engagement,that we are bringing up these issues. We believe that art and artists benefit from honest critique and that a piece such as Between the Door and the Street that aims to open up space to talk about feminism and women’s work must take on these issues.

Respectfully yours,

Leina Bocar ( performer )

artist, activist, member of Occupy Sunset Park and Arts and Labor

Anonymous performer 1

Anonymous participant 2

* We are in no way attempting to speak on behalf of the other women performers or for their organizations. We are respectfully signing as individuals.

 

_________________________________________________________

 

Supporters, signing in solidarity,

 

1. W.A.G.E. (Working Artists in the Greater Economy)

2. Laurel Ptak, curator, member of Arts and Labor

3. Marisa Holmes, activist, filmmaker, Occupy Wall Street

4. Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University

5. Julieta Salgado, activist, sociologist, Brooklyn College

6. Saar Shemesh, artist, activist, Free Cooper Union

7. Sarah Quinter, artist, activist, Occupy Sandy

8. Zoltan Gluck, Doctoral student, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

9. Kressent Pottenger, activist, Murphy Institute for Labor studies, CUNY, member of Arts and Labor

10. Mike Andrews, Occupy Wall Street, Strike Debt, Copy Editor e-flux

11. Katherine Ramos, activist, mother

12. Noah Fischer, artist, activist

13. Samantha Demby, social justice activist

14. Matthew Tinker, activist, All in the Red

15. George Caffentzis, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern Maine

16. Peter Walsh, Intern Labor Rights, member of Arts and Labor

17. Hector Agredano, CCNY Instructor

18. Elena Schowlsky-Fitch, Public health educator, community activist, Occupy Sunset Park, mother

19. Rachel Higgins, artist, activist, member of Arts and Labor

20. Steve McFarland, Doctoral Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center

21. Sarah Newgaard, CUNY Hunter College alumni

22. Darrah Martin, Free University, Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia University

23. Lauren Suchman

24. Igor Rodriguez Calderon, Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

25. Jerry Goralnick, activist, actor, War Resisters League, The Living Theatre, Strike Debt

26. Emily Baierl

27. Rob Robinson, housing justice activist, Take Back the Land, NESRI

28. Helen Panagiotopoulous, CUNY Graduate Center

29.  Brad Young, Doctoral student, Political Science, CUNY Graduate Center

30.  Amy Starecheski, Columbia University

31.  Susan Jahoda, professor at UMASS Amherst , Rethinking Marxism Collective

32. Simon Leung, artist and Professor, UC Irvine

33. Maureen Connor, artist, Professor at Queens College, Founder of Social Practice Program

34. Jessica Feldman, Doctoral candidate, Department of Media, Culture, Communication, New York University, activist

35. David Spataro, activist, Doctoral Candidate, CUNY

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To Be Added to the list email x(at)vizkult.org

SoulsBeenSoldAgain-BlackEmergencyCulturalCoalition-1969

 

Flyer produced by The Black Emergency Cultural Coalition 1969. Previously on November 17, 1968,  a protest was initiated as this exhibition was being planned [1]. This flyer appears to be calling for the boycott of the actual preview of the show.

The Black Emergency Cultural Coalition had about 15+ years of art and activism and still not one book (1968-1984). We will be uploading more of this history as we come across it.  Stay turned!   & any information about BECC appreciated, email x(at)vizkult(dot) org .

Continue reading…

15.06.13 from Basel wird besetzt (Basel Will Be Occupied)
original German version below…english translated using Google, sorry for the loss in translation!

Kunst mach geld (Art Makes a Money) Communique from Basel wird besetzt

Art Makes Money
by Basel Will Be Occupied
15th June 2013

Had it not been bold enough to earn anything with millions while others starve, no, the Art Basel went even further. A slum, a “favela” was built on the exhibition space, in which, surrounded by poverty romance may sipping bigwigs glass of champagne.

Disgusted yesterday it had a little more genuine “favela” the fat cats “favela” connected and enlivened the place until late in the evening with music, good humor and a critical look at poverty.

The police responded to this blatant threat of poverty romance with a Stosstrupp robo cops, pepper spray and rubber bullets. If poverty is not recyclable, then they should kindly hide well.

We would like to greet all the people quite fond who animates the exhibition site and hope you gehts all good.

There kiss the busy residential ends

 

- – - – - – -  GERMAN VERSION – - – -

 

Kunst Macht Geld
Basel wird besetzt
15. Juni 2013

Wäre es nicht schon frech genug, mit irgendetwas Millionen zu verdienen, während andere hungern, nein, die Art Basel ging noch weiter. Ein Slum, ein „Favela“ wurde auf den Messeplatz gebaut, in welchem, von Armutsromantik umgeben, Bonzen Cüpli schlürfen dürfen.

Angeekelt davon hatte sich gestern ein etwas echteres „Favela“ dem Bonzen-“Favela“ angeschlossen und den Platz bis in die späten Abendstunden mit Musik, guter Laune und einem kritischen Blick auf Armut belebt.

Die Polizei reagierte auf diese eklatante Gefährdung der Armutsromantik mit einem Stosstrupp Robocops, Pfefferspray und Gummigeschossen. Wenn Armut nicht verwertbar ist, dann soll sie sich gefälligst gut verstecken.

Wir möchten all die Menschen ganz lieb grüssen, die den Messeplatz belebt haben und hoffen, euch gehts allen gut.

Es küssen, die Besetztwohnenden

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image above from the police raid on the Art Basel Favela June 14, 2013

June 14, 2013. Artists-activists in Basel came out to enliven and comment on an otherwise stale and poorly thought-out Favela Café installation in ArtBasel. The people shown here partying as an act of protest to the work by Tadashi Kawamata and architect Christophe Scheidegge. Being an unsanctioned gathering, police raid the Favela Café firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd. Here are two views that show the scene:

View from above

This is a street level view

Artleaks perhaps did a better report on the event. Their report also links to the video showing the making of the Favela Café, complete with the preview event serving hor d’oeuvres and sparkling drinks:

Favela Cafe Art Basel preview party

In the media, the occupy activists have been portrayed as art hooligans who have allegedly attacked the police and are now facing serious fines, although the worst property damage they inflicted was drawing with chalk in the exhibition space. -Art Leaks

Read More at Artleaks
http://art-leaks.org/2013/06/17/police-v-s-favela-cafe-occupation-at-art-basel-switzerland