Art show fracas in Russia

The Moscow art-group War (Voina) is known for stunts like taking over a police station (they titled the performance "Humiliation of Copper in His Own House") and letting loose feral cats into expensive Moscow restaurants. Recently they held a show at the Central Art House in Crimean Region that turned into a police raid.

Marina Galperina of Russia! magazine writes:

200906160911When famed Russian curator Andrei Erofeev invited Viona to take part in his "Lettrism" exhibition, he was already familiar with their antics and political provocations. Erofeyev granted the group's request for a whole room and complete freedom.

Erofeev, however, was not expecting a 115 square-foot banner photograph of group sex with the slogan "Fuck for Your Heir the Bear Cub!" (the bear cub - medvejonok - being Medvedev, naturally.)

This and other photographic and video transcripts of their x-rated February 2008 action at the Timiriazev Biological Museum comprised just a portion of Voina's incendiary exhibition. When the director of the Central Art House, Bichkov, arrived at the scene, he became hilariously infuriated (his last name does, after all, mean "little bull"). He raged ferociously at curator Erofeyev to dismantle Voina's display.

A series of compromises were attempted, like the paraphrasing of signage "I Fuck the Bear Cub" (for some reason "cock" is less offensive than "fuck" in Russian). Bichkov still called the cops, urging for Voina's arrest and permanent blacklisting. At first, Erofeev discouraged the cops by pretending to angrily scold the art group, but several Bichkov's threats later, a second, heavier-armed police wave arrived and the destruction of Voina's entire exhibit began.

Art show fracas in Russia (Photos NSFW)

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  1. (for some reason “cock” is less offensive than “fuck” in Russian).

    What a strange people.

  2. Isn’t “cock” less offensive than “fuck” here too?

    I would like to hang out with these guys, they sound like a lot of fun.

  3. I’m too old to consider random obscenity ‘irreverent’ or ‘arty’ anymore. They’ll eventually grow out of it and learn to say something relevant.

    Just let ’em blow off some steam. The best reaction to ‘art’ like this is to yawn, not to arrest.

  4. I dunno about that, seems like they made a point that someone in power didn’t want made.

  5. Thank you for using the word “fracas” in the title. Apparently you’re really reading that Simon and Kirby stuff.

  6. Aaaand… VOINA’s video:

    (the inprovised punk concert in a courtroom).

    “We going to shoot a music video titled All Cops Are Bastards”.

  7. And just a minor correction: the show was held in Moscow; Krymsky Val (lit. Crimean Wall) is a street name where CDH (Central Art House) is located.

  8. “and the cock ejaculated three times whilst he did deny him”

    (excerpt from the Dirty Bible)

  9. You know, looking at that photo, it’s not all that X rated. You can only see nipples on one of the women, and no genitalia are visible. I reckon there’s a good chance that nothing was actually happening, either – the shots are a little too posed for people to actually be doing the nasty while getting them just perfect.

    I’d give it an R for simulated sex, no more.

    Hmmm … what’s really creepy is that the YouTube video of the incident has been pulled “for terms of use violation.” Perhaps YouTube feels it’s pornographic?

  10. @14 No-no-no. These photos are from their, ahem, performance (quite notorious, yeah) from 2008. SOMETHING was actually happening; i’m not sure i could find the video now, but here’s some photos: http://kontury.info/photo/92 (NSFW)

    I mean, everybody in the room knew it was real (or, at least, not staged for the poster).

  11. It’s probably needless to say, but even to someone with as limited Russian skills as me, this translation leaves a lot to be desired.

    For instance, in Russian, “cock,” “хуй,” can be used as a verb for which the closest English approximation is “fuck.” That gets confusing though since the verb “еба́ть” is the actual verb for “fuck.” As for which is better or worse, well, apparently the Moscow Police have an opinion but I couldn’t say.

    Also, it’s important to note the “Crimean Region” refers to “Крымский Вал” a street in Moscow, and not the Semi-Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which is part of Ukraine, a rather different country with a much more relaxed attitude toward making fun of Medvedev.

    It’s rather funny actually that my friend has a shirt that says “Хуй войне!”

    1. “Хуй войне!” means, according to the little bit of Russian I’ve picked up despite the insanely inflected grammar and the TATU Wikipedia page, ‘cock to war!’, or ‘fuck war!’ Хуй is apparently a common word for ‘dick’, which is used similarly in many ways to ‘fuck’ in English (not like ‘motherfucker’, it seems, as much as ‘fuck this shit’, but I’m no native speaker- caveat lector). So, Screw War is perhaps a good translation…

      Now that is a fine slogan, even for a sensationalist faux-lesbian-electronica band, nu?

  12. According to my Ukranian/Russian (half-ultra-Chasidic, half-old-Bolshevik) lover, ‘cock’ is actually the foundation of most commonly-used, low-colloquial curses in Russian. ‘Sit on cock’ is a moderate form of ‘fuck you’. It’s pretty nasty, in other words- especially since Soviet culture disdained swearing (it seems that it was considered an underclass activity, counter to the cleancut idealised Soviet lifestyle).

    I’m wondering how much this relates to Putin’s photo-op with bears or Russian bear mythos, or ti the politics of ethnicity in modern Russia, Medvedev being Jewish and Armenian- maybe this is an attempt to place him within the bloodthirsty-northman narrative because he’s a useful underling? or not?

  13. According to my Ukranian/Russian (half-ultra-Chasidic, half-old-Bolshevik) lover, ‘cock’ is actually the foundation of most commonly-used, low-colloquial curses in Russian. ‘Sit on cock’ is a moderate form of ‘fuck you’. It’s pretty nasty, in other words- especially since Soviet culture disdained swearing (it seems that it was considered an underclass activity, counter to the cleancut idealised Soviet lifestyle).

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