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chernovs choice

Published: September 21, 2011 (Issue # 1675)


The art group Voina has asked international artists to boycott the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art that opens on Friday, Sept. 23 for exhibiting a work that does not belong to the group under its name.

The work in question is the Kiss the Cops stunt, which was staged in Moscow by former Voina members Pyotr Verzilov and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and a number of volunteers earlier this year. During the stunt, female activists forced kisses on policewomen on duty in the Moscow metro.

The video documenting the stunt was uploaded onto YouTube on Feb. 28, four days after Leonid Nikolayev and Oleg Vorotnikov, who did three months in prison, were released on bail paid by British graffiti artist Banksy in St. Petersburg.

On March 1, Voina made a statement denouncing the stunt and denying any involvement with it.

Alexei Plutser, who documents every Voina stunt with photos and text descriptions in his Livejournal.com blog, said then that Verzilov and his girlfriends had been kicked out of Voina for allegedly handing in a Kiev activist to the Ukrainian police in November 2009.

(The activist, Alexander Volodarsky, spent six weeks in prison and three months in a penal colony in Ukraine before he was released on July 22.)

Plutser also noted that the Kiss the Cops stunt appeared to have been timed to coincide with the much-publicized release of Nikolayev and Vorotnikov in order to draw maximum attention from the public.

The video and photographs of the stunt are scheduled to be part of Media Impact. International Festival of Activist Art, an exhibit within the biennale.

In a statement Friday, the real Voina wrote that the activists have been deprived of the opportunity to take legal action against the Moscow curators because they are still under investigation, while Vorotnikov and his wife Natalya Kozlyonok Sokol are on a police wanted list and in hiding.

In their response to Voina posted on the Internet on Sunday, the organizers refused to withdraw the work, saying that Verzilov and Tolokonnikova claim they have the same right to the name Voina as the other members, and that the organizers have no way of influencing the names of participants.

Meanwhile, the media appears to be confused again as many preview articles for the Biennale mention Voinas award-winning Dick Captured by the KGB stunt on Liteiny Bridge in St. Petersburg in June 2010, the groups criminal charges and Banksys support.

These are in fact what Voina is best-known for, and none of this has anything to do with Verzilov and Tolokonnikova.

Meanwhile, footage of the real Voinas stunts was included last week in an official video for the protest song State Bulldozer by the Moscow band Center. The video is available on YouTube and the bands web resources.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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