Wednesday 26 December 2012

Russian authorities to end artist's fun?

This month saw Russian prosecutors launch an investigation into an art exhibition by two British artists, Jake and Dinos Chapman, for violation of Russia's 'extremism' legislation – which prohibit the incitement of hatred on racial, ethnic or religious grounds – the same legislation which was used to prosecute and imprison Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk-rock collective.

The exhibition, The End of Fun, is described as: "a three-dimensional collage, consisting of miniature plastic figures placed in nine glass display cases. The display cases are arranged in the hall in such a way that it resembles a swastika from above. In the display cases, a single landscape of hell unfolds, in which the figures ceaselessly kill one another with diabolical cruelty. In the artists’ words, only one moment in this piece is captured, the fact that everything happening behind the glass is taking place at the same time. Like the architects of the old Kunstkamera, the Chapman brothers "lock up" the fascists in a capsule full of sadistic bestiality. By placing cruelty in seal museum display cases or dioramas, the artists strive to cure society of that cruelty."
a capsule full of sadistic bestiality?
It currently remains on display at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, however, if it is found to breach Russia's laws, it could be closed down.

France 24 noted that:
"The city's prosecutor's office said it was checking for "possible violations" by the organisers of their Hermitage show "End of Fun" after "numerous complaints from citizens."

"According to the complaints, the said show insults the feelings of Orthodox believers... and is directed at inciting hatred," the prosecutors said on their official website..."
Meanwhile, the Telegraph reported:
"[The gallery's director] Mikhail Piotrovsky railed against the probe, saying it was a "stunning example of the cultural degradation of society" in Russia: "People think Christian crosses have been desecrated because a teddy bear and a McDonald's clown are nailed to them. There is nothing blasphemous here, but there is clearly a desire to spoil the mood in our city.

... Mr Piotrovsky said that "only an idiot" would consider the exhibition insulting to Christianity. "What is art and what is not is determined by the museum and not the general public," he said."
This is not the first time that the Russian authorities have sought to censor art. It is only hoped that the Chapman Brothers do not suffer the same fate as Pussy Riot.

Source: The Telegraph, 7 December 2012, France 24, 10 December 2012

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