News Piece of Interest: Russia vs. Contemporary Culture


Photograph of the band Pussy Riot by Igor Mukhin

Eva Hartog has written a piece in The Moscow Times on the state of Russia’s crackdown against contemporary culture that the government finds antithetical to its goals and traditions. In an excerpt from the piece, Hartog writes:

Despite the high-profile incidents, non-traditional art in Russia continues to exist and at times appears to operate free from constraint. Dmitry Ozerkov, curator of the 20/21 contemporary art project at the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, told The Moscow Times he had not experienced any pressure from the public or authorities — even when the museum put on display provocative artworks on homosexuality and Russia’s role in Ukraine.

Kovalskaya, of the Meyerhold Center, said people were often surprised at her center’s sharply Kremlin-critical performances. But, she added, the threat of closure hung over all independent art institutions. “If they want to close down Meyerhold, a hundred [regulatory] violations will be found,” she said. Despite the crackdown, 2015 had been a good year for the Russian arts, Guelman said, “not thanks to the Culture Ministry, but in spite of it.”

“This year, the authorities’ pressure was enormous, but it did not kill us,” he said.

In the context of recent empathy between Western and Russian leaders on issues of foreign affairs and national defense, it is important to remember the plight of those Russian artists that are in the cross-hairs of the Putin regime. To read the article in full, you can visit the newspaper’s website here.

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