A Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky stripped naked and nailed his testicles to a Red Square cobblestones in protest against the Kremlin’s crackdown on political rights. Ouch!
Pyotr Pavlensky works in the genre of “actionism”. Out of the thee scantly worded meanings of this word in the Wikipedia, only one, however imprecisely, applies to Pyotr Pavlensky’s “actionism”: an excessive emphasis on social action, activity, or change in lieu of continuity, stability, and permanence.
Mr. Pavlensky’s latest “act” not only greatly annoyed local police but stirred emotions, discussions and called for opinions. In a word, it resonated. How did it resonate is another matter. Mildly put, it wasn’t the sort of resonance Pavlensky might’ve hoped for. Unless, of course, his intent was simply to gain notoriety by means of exhibitionism, however painful.
“The action must be seen as a metaphor of apathy, political indifference and fatalism of the contemporary Russian society. It is not as much a bureaucratic mess that deprives our society of the ability to act as a fixation [of our society] on its defeats and failures that nails us to the Kremlin’s cobblestone, creating an army of apathetic fools, resigned to meet their fate… “ the artist explained his artistic aspirations in a statement.
I‘ll withhold my own opinion for a moment here, in favor of “fair and balanced reporting” of the Russian folks’ reaction to the Pavlensky’s persona and his latest endeavor.
Based upon comments and discussions, vociferous majority wasn’t overly amused. That is not to say that majority of Russians disagree with Mr. Pavlensky’s statement. Unfortunately, people seem to have paid little attention to his words, transfixed mostly on his mangled balls.
“Apathetic fools”, as Pavlensky’s calls his non-fans, discussed subjects that interested them a lot more than defeats and failures that nails us to the Kremlin’s cobblestone. Was he drunk, very drunk or blitzed out of his mind? Wasn’t he ashamed as women and children watched? How cold were the cobblestones against his skinny hind? How painful was it to drive a nail through the skin — painful, very painful or bearable? How many times he missed the nail and smashed his balls?
Idiot, psycho, fool, crazy, masochist were the most common epithets used to describe Mr. Pavlensky, and this is excluding a number of more emotionally charged expressions, which are unsuitable for printing on this page.
Mr. Pavlensky is a prolific “actionist”.
Pavlensky’s outre acts, if not gained him millions of fans, had certain impact in Russia nonetheless. “Actionism” as a movement of contemporary art got into a limelight.
During one Russian radio-show another “actionist” shared his idea for the next “action”: As a sign of social protest and rebellion, he planned to bring “lots of chairs” — perhaps a thousand of them — and pile’em up under the doors and in the area in-front of certain government building. Whatever for? “To see how they will rake through the whole bunch of chairs”, trying to clear the place. The artist was asked several pointed questions about the higher purpose of such “action”. Wouldn’t it look ever so slightly “idiotic”? Offended, the “actionist” retorted that criticism of his ideas means ignorance and that those who criticize him do not understand art. Well, at least the “chair pileup” act was pain free, unlike Mr. Pavlensky’s martyrdom.
A fair number of commentators and “opinionators” collectively recalled this “artsy” joke: If you shit under someone’s door and then ring the doorbell, it’s no longer a disorderly conduct, but an INSTALLATION. If, on the other hand, you press the doorbell knob first and then drop your pants and shit, its a PERFORMANCE.
As I said, neither of the above is my opinion, merely a Vox Populi…