May 7, 2015, 6 pm
Greer Garson Theater at Santa Fe University of Art and Design
Join us for a conversation between Ellen Berkovitch of Adobeairstream.com and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadya) and Maria Alyokhina (Masha), two founding members of the Moscow-based activist collective Pussy Riot.
Pussy Riot’s appearance in Santa Fe is a collaboration between SITE Santa Fe and the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. The arrival of Nadya and Masha kicks of the beginning of SITE’s 20th Anniversary — celebrating 20 years as a vital platform for creative expression, innovation and inspiration through the art of today. This conversation is also part of Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s Artists for Positive Social Change.
Your ticket purchase is a vote of support for creative freedom and enables SITE to continue to produce outstanding public programs that spark dialogue about the role of art in today’s society.
Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist punk-performance collective of approximately 10 women, known for staging provocative guerrilla-style public performances often with political themes. The group is instantly recognizable by their trademark brightly colored balaclavas, tights and short skirts.
Pussy Riot was founded in 2011 in reaction to the announcement that Vladimir Putin would run again in presidential elections, despite having served two consecutive terms from 2000 to 2008. Pussy Riot’s initial actions took the form of miniature flash mob protests in places like the Moscow Metro, where the group performed short and fast politically charged punk songs, harshly critical of the Putin government, specifically its restrictive stance on women’s issues. The group continued to use public performance and confrontation with authorities to bring attention to political repression, judicial and church corruption, LGBT issues, and women’s rights.
Pussy Riot gained international notoriety on March 3, 2012 after the arrest of 3 of their core members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutselvich. The three were arrested for “Hooliganism motivated by religious hatred & hostility” after a performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior church in Moscow, which the group saw as a symbol of the corrupt collusion between the Russian state and church.
The performance consisted of a ‘punk prayer’, a song called “Holy Shit” which called for the Virgin Mary to overthrow Putin and criticized the corruption on the Orthodox Church, which the group sees as a propaganda instrument of Putin’s regime, citing frequent pro-Putin statements made by Russian Orthodox bishop, Patriarch Kirill, including “It is unchristian to demonstrate,” and “Putin has been placed at the head of the government by God”.
Once in custody, the three women were denied bail and held until their trial began in late July of that year. On August 17, 2012 the trio were convicted of “Hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” and each was sentenced to two years in jail. While Yakaterina had her sentence suspended, both Nadezhda and Maria served their terms in Russian prison. Throughout the trial and their incarceration, the women attracted vocal international support from musicians, celebrities and politicians.
Since then, the group has become even more outspoken in their criticism of the Putin government and continues to perform, provoke and raise awareness around the world in spite of continual intimidation from the Russian government and media.