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The man wrapped in barbed wire is Petr Pavlensky, the Post-Soviet Russian situationist famous for enduring physical pain in public places. You might have seen pictures of him sewing his lips shut or nailing his genitals to the Red Square in Moscow. Pavlensky, like Oleg Kulik (The Mad Dog) is one of many situationists using his naked body to protest against the Russian regime.

But it is the all-female group Pussy Riot that caught the attention of our mainstream media, with a clever combination of punk music, Fluxus’ living art, Slavoj Žižek’s post-ideology and a killer brand. As you can imagine, the costly bill for these performances is often imprisonment. This is the price that Pavlensky, Pussy Riot and many others pay for their extraordinary art.

This is Pussy Riot’s live performance of Mother Of God, Drive Putin Away at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, ending with their arrest:

 

 

Oleg Kulik in his 1994 Mad Dog performance:

 

Masks Show Series 2 by The Blue Noses:

 

Don’t miss Inside Pussy Riot and Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery in London until December 24th.

 

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Everything we do is performance, or storytelling, to an extent. Access to the ‘true self is not something we decide or can even seek.