Russian actionism has reached a new extreme in the latest protest by Pyotr Pavlensky who ‘celebrated’ the day of the Russian policeman by nailing his genitals to a hole between the cobblestones on Red Square. An action which had as its raison d’etre a protest against state repression.In many ways he repeats the self-harm ethos of the Viennese actionists while lending it a social and political context. His actions have engendered quite a lively discussion regarding whether the action was justified or not.
Here, however, is his own statement and his own rationale:
“The action can be seen as a metaphor of the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of contemporary Russian society. It is not bureaucratic lawlessness which deprives society of the possibility to act but the obsession with our defeats and losses which nail us ever more into the Kremlin’s paving stones, creating an army of stuffed dummies patiently awaiting their fate.
Now as the authorities turn the country into one large penal colony, openly robbing the population and sending the proceeds so as to increase and enrich police apparatuses and other security services, society is allowing this tyranny and through its inaction the triumph of a police state is drawing nearer.”