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27/10/2015 / Issue #002 / Text: Bart Stuart, Klaar vd Lippe

Putin will teach you how to love....

Artist space W139 has gone through some major changes last year. From a curator run space it has been transformed to an artist run space. Self organisation is key now. Artist groups can make a propositon for a show and produce it with the help of W139. This change of policy has resulted in a number of fresh and stimulating art shows with an interesting fringe program.

This month the space is taken over by WGDD. Organized by artist Karl Philips around the theme periphery. Is there still room for fringe in the art world.
Activist and filmers Vasily Bogatov and Taisiya Krugovykh from Moskow are represented with their documentary Pussy versus Putin (2013). It pictures the famous artist group Pussy Riot, (in)famous for their performance of a anti religion song in an orthodox church.

Last Thursday they gave an impressive artist talk about activism in Moscow.
Afterwards we asked them some questions:  

All of a sudden Amsterdam seems very safe and provincial.
Amsterdam is great. So laid back and beautiful. In this atmosphere I can again think and relax .
I love your architecture. It’s beautiful. In Moscow a lot of buildings have been demolished. Monuments as well. That’s how I got involved in activism, protesting against demolition. And then one thing led to another... he smiles...

What is it like to live in Moscow?
T: As soon as the door opens of the plane arriving back in Moscow it feels like a gun is put to my head. There is always a tension. About daily life. Food is expensive (due to the international sanctions agianst Russia) Health care and education are poor. Drinking water is bad.

But that is not the worst part. I worry about my family. My parents, will they suffer repercussions?  I also fear for my self.
V: The violence against Pussy Riot and us is not ideological. The Russian government has no ideology. It is only about power There are certain groups in society more ideological oriented, right wing or religious.  They stick to themselves. For us it is also about the system itself. I can see myself being part of the political left. My resistance is first and foremost against a system of oppression and exploitation.

During communism je had the dissidents and the samizdat, a subversive supporter group How is that now?.
V: you don’t need to share books anymore. You have the Internet. At least, for now. Of course you have yor friend and fellow activist. We are going through bad times now in Moscow. The thing with the Ukrain, there is an atmosphere of war. There’s very little support for protest.

How do you cope with all this?
T: Despite everything, I want to stay in Russia.
You still have hope? They laugh.
V: Hope? I am angry.

How can we help you?
T smiles; Invite us to do projects. It is wonderful to be able to work in an atmosphere of freedom. Invite artists, musicians to come over. It is so important that we stay in contact.
V: And come to Russia. Let’s work together. Freedom is not a word. It is something you do.