In the Culture of One World Randy Gener

A Global Media Project | Arts Economy, Cultural Diplomacy and Critical Thinking

Putin’s Pussy problem | Feminist punk group Pussy Riot calls Vladimir Putin’s Russia “repressive” and “totalitarian”

Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow | Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko

Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow | Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko

Three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot said that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is the one on trial when they delivered closing arguments in Moscow.  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, one of the three women, said, “If this political system throws itself against three girls … it shows this political system is afraid of truth.” She called the charges against them a “political order for repression” and denounced Putin’s “totalitarian-authoritarian system.” She said Pussy Riot actions are an example of “opposition art.”

“Even though we are behind bars, we are freer than those people. We can say what we want, while they can only say what political censorship allows,” Tolokonnikova added.

Tolokonnikova and her two band mates, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, sat in a glass cage in a courtroom in Moscow during the nine-day trial.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, one of the members, also read a closing statement in the criminal case. This is what she said:

During the closing statement, the defendant is expected to repent or express regret for her deeds, or to enumerate attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary. Instead, I want to express my views about the causes of what has happened with us.

The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].

Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, national corporations, or his menacing police system, or his own obedient judiciary system. It may be that the tough, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more convincing, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the helm. It was here that the need arose to make use of the aesthetics of the Orthodox religion, historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.

How did he succeed in doing this? After all, we still have a secular state, and shouldn’t any intersection of the religious and political spheres be dealt with severely by our vigilant and critically minded society? Here, apparently, the authorities took advantage of a certain deficit of Orthodox aesthetics in Soviet times, when the Orthodox religion had the aura of a lost history, of something crushed and damaged by the Soviet totalitarian regime, and was thus an opposition culture. The authorities decided to appropriate this historical effect of loss and present their new political project to restore Russia’s lost spiritual values, a project which has little to do with a genuine concern for preservation of Russian Orthodoxy’s history and culture.

It was also fairly logical that the Russian Orthodox Church, which has long had a mystical connection with power, emerged as this project’s principal executor in the media. Moreover, it was also agreed that the Russian Orthodox Church, unlike the Soviet era, when the church opposed, above all, the crudeness of the authorities towards history itself, should also confront all baleful manifestations of contemporary mass culture, with its concept of diversity and tolerance.

Implementing this thoroughly interesting political project has required considerable quantities of professional lighting and video equipment, air time on national TV channels for hours-long live broadcasts, and numerous background shoots for morally and ethically edifying news stories, where in fact the Patriarch’s well-constructed speeches would be pronounced, helping the faithful make the right political choice during the election campaign, a difficult time for Putin. Moreover, all shooting has to take place continuously; the necessary images must sink into the memory and be constantly updated, to create the impression of something natural, constant and compulsory.

Our sudden musical appearance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior with the song “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out” violated the integrity of this media image, generated and maintained by the authorities for so long, and revealed its falsity. In our performance we dared, without the Patriarch’s blessing, to combine the visual image of Orthodox culture and protest culture, suggesting to smart people that Orthodox culture belongs not only to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch and Putin, that it might also take the side of civic rebellion and protest in Russia.

Perhaps such an unpleasant large-scale effect from our media intrusion into the cathedral was a surprise to the authorities themselves. First they tried to present our performance as the prank of heartless militant atheists. But they made a huge blunder, since by this time we were already known as an anti-Putin feminist punk band that carried out their media raids on the country’s major political symbols.

In the end, considering all the irreversible political and symbolic losses caused by our innocent creativity, the authorities decided to protect the public from us and our nonconformist thinking. Thus ended our complicated punk adventure in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we now expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. Now the whole world sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, Russia looks different in the eyes of the world from the way Putin tries to present it at daily international meetings. All the steps toward a state governed by the rule of law that he promised have obviously not been made. And his statement that the court in our case will be objective and make a fair decision is another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you.

SOURCE:  Chtodelat News (https://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/yekaterina-samutsevich-closing-statement/)

Amnesty International Demands Russia Release Punk Singers Detained Following Church Performance

Amnesty International Demands Russia Release Punk Singers Detained Following Church Performance

About Randy Gener

Randy Gener is the Nathan Award-winning editor, writer, critic, playwright and visual artist in New York City. He is the author of the plays "Love Seats for Virginia Woolf," "Wait for Me at the Bottom of the Pool," "A Parliament of the Streets," and others. His conceptual installation, "In the Garden of One World" (designed by Nic Ularu), debuted in 2008 at La MaMa La Galleria in New York. He is a renowned lecturer and speaker in the arts and technology, appearing at such schools as the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center-Graduate Center, City University of New York, Montclair State University, University of South Carolina, Brooklyn College; U.S. and European festivals as Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Prague Quadrennial for World Scenography, William Inge Theatre Festival, Humana Festival of New American Plays; as well as such institutions as Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Hallmark Inc., Dramatists Guild of America, Odeon Theatre of Bucharest, Romanian Cultural Institute-New York, Long Wharf Theater Company, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre and La MaMa E.T.C.

2 comments on “Putin’s Pussy problem | Feminist punk group Pussy Riot calls Vladimir Putin’s Russia “repressive” and “totalitarian”

  1. lowerarchy
    August 17, 2012

    Nice article – thanks

  2. Pingback: Putin’s Pussy problem | As world awaits Russian court’s verdict, “Free Pussy Riot” protest actions become global « in the theater of One World

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Categories

“From the Edge: Performance Design in the Divided States of America” at LaMaMa La Galleria

On Smart Power, International Cultural Exchange and Performance Design | An Interview by Amanda White Thietje

3 Interviews by AMANDA WHITE THIETJE:
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RANDY GENER and I met in Prague this summer, where we were both attending the 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ). I was wandering through the exhibits, soaking up the inspiration and the beauty of the city; he was serving as both curatorial advisor of "From the Edge" (USITT’s USA National Pavilion) and Editor-In-Chief of this year’s PQ daily newspaper.
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Randy agreed to talk with me about the PQ, and there’s so much in this interview I want to share with you that I’m going to post it in three parts. Click on the titles of each article below so you can read each part of the interview:
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  • Interview – Part 1: "From the Edge"
  • Interview – Part 2: "Active Searching & The Value of the Prague Quadrennial"
  • Interview – Part 3: "A Ripple Effect."
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    “From the Edge: Performance Design in the Divided States of America,” the USA national pavilion at Prague National Gallery

    From the Edge: Performance Design in the Divided States of America

    Reflections on curating and creating national expositions in an international art-based mega-exhibition in Prague
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  • Curatorial essay: "Exhibiting a country on the edge: a U.S. approach to performance design"
  • USA exposition returns from Prague: "American performing garage under the sign of Obama"
  • Prague diaries: "Philadelphia theater-makers talk about how performance design affected their works and processes."
  • Interview with curators: "Curators speak about the thrills, challenges and obstacles of staging national expositions of design."
  • -

    Praise and Commendations

    >> "A first-rate writer and editor. Randy Gener understands culture in the widest sense: as news, as art, as politics, as media," Margo Jefferson, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer.
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    >> "Mr. Randy Gener’s 'in the theater of One World,' a showcase of his own individual work, is taking up the slack that print journalism is leaving behind. You won’t find this in your local papers," Superfluities Redux.
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    >> "The visionary," Instinct Magazine.
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    >> "An internationalist, a champion of cultural exchange and dialogue," The New York Daily News.
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    >> "Randy Gener's command of theatrical subjects is unequalled among his contemporaries," American Theatre magazine/Theatre Communications Group.
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    >> "Randy Gener sheds light into censorship and repression of the arts," Judges of the Deadline Club Award, New York chapter of Society of Professional Journalists.
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    >> "Randy Gener is one of the most compelling voices of our era of globalization," Ioana Ieronim, author, poet and Fulbright Program Director of Fulbright Commission Romania.
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    >> "Gener draws our attention to largely ignored voices and visions on the international theatrical scene," Judges of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.
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    >> "Mr. Gener holds himself to a high standard in his long-form journalism — perhaps a model for young journalists," Superfluities Redux.
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    >> "Gener’s writing on theater, especially as it interacts with LGBT lives, is beautifully done, knowledgeable and almost lyrical in its language,” Judges of NLGJA Journalist of the Year.
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    >> "Randy Gener demonstrates the ripple effect that spotlighting artistic passion can have," Judges of the Deadline Club Award, New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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    >> "Randy Gener's 'Love Seats for Virginia Woolf' is a meditative homage. Gener has staged his play with a subtle grace that complements the art objects' sedentary ingenuity. Never has Virginia's room of one's own been so suggestively furnished,” The Village Voice
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    >> "Gener's accumulation of words in his play 'Love Seats for Virginia Woolf' are the feathery evanescence of the butterfly's wings clamped together with the bolts of iron that are the four loveseat sculptures. The actors become words personified. I was left astonished,” The Virginia Woolf Miscellany of the International Virginia Woolf Society.
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    >> "His essays wed critical intelligence with a love of the telling and unruly fact," Judges of George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.
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    >> "Gener went above and beyond with regard to enterprise, resourcefulness and overcoming of obstacles in the pursuit of the story," Judges of Deadline Club Award, New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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    >> "Randy Gener has been a tremendous asset to American Theatre ever since he was selected as a Jerome Foundation Affiliated Writer back in 1995-96, and especially since he joined the staff full-time in 2001," American Theatre magazine/Theatre Communications Group.
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    >> "One of the leaders of the Asian American community," The New York Daily News.
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    >> "In conferring the Pamana ng Pilipino (Legacy of the Filipino Nation) Presidential Award to Randy Gener, the President recognizes Gener's excellence in the field of theater arts and creativity, and diligence in promoting Filipino-American interests and accomplishments to mainstream audiences in Europe and the United States of America," His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines.
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    Biography

    Randy Gener is the Nathan Award-winning editor, writer, critic, curator, playwright and visual artist in New York City.
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    His conceptual installation, "in the garden of One World," debuted at La MaMa La Galleria in New York. He is the author of "Love Seats for Virginia Woolf," and other plays.
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    For his editorial work and critical essays as the senior editor of American Theatre magazine, Gener has received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, the highest accolade for excellence in dramatic criticism in the United States; the Deadline Club Award for Best Arts Reporting from the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists; five media awards for excellence in travel-writing from the annual North American Travel Journalists Association Awards competition; and the NLGJA Journalist of the Year 2010.

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