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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.