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Confronting the socio-psychological environment: Feminist/political art protest in contemporary Russia from Pussy Riot to ‘Spiritual Combat’ exhibition

Alek D. Epstein

Abstract

Issues related to psychological and environmental conditions are crucial for the analysis of contemporary activist art’s political impact. Russia is a patriarchal society, and the Orthodox Church is particularly powerful because of its close relations with the state. The paper provides detailed examples of the repression and censorship of feminism and political art. Due to the fact that there were — and still are — very few radical feminist political leaders, relatively young members of a punk rock protest art group Pussy Riot, established in 2011, and some of their supporters within the artistic field (such as Evgenia Maltceva, whose case is discussed in detail in this paper) have become the most thought-provoking (and undoubtedly, the most famous, especially in the West) feminist leaders in Russia. However, the socio-psychological environment is not supportive, mainly for historical and psychological reasons: my argument is that they are charismatic but disconnected leaders without followers, and therefore their impact on trends within Russian politics and society is quite limited.

Keywords

political art, feminist art, contemporary Russia, political censorship, state-society relati

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18063/ESP.2016.01.001
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