Pussy Riot: Punk Rock, Air Guitar & The Pursuit of Freedom
Authored by Kelly Gallo
While Russia was prepping for the Sochi Olympics, all-female punk rock collective, Pussy Riot, was using performance art to protest against President Putin. The group’s most famous action was in February 2012 inside a Moscow cathedral where band members danced and played air guitar as their boom box played what they called “A Punk Prayer”:
“Virgin Mary, Mother of God, chase Putin out… The phantom of liberty is up in heaven, Gay pride sent to Siberia in a chain gang… Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist.”
The action resulted in the arrest of three members of the group, including Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who were sentenced to two years in prison. As part of Putin’s pre-Olympics prisoner amnesty, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were released in December, two months before their sentences were up. Since then, they’ve been on a U.S Tour including a stop at The Colbert Report.
On February 27th, join Spark for an evening of film and conversation as we explore Russia beyond the glory of the Olympic Games and take a deeper look at the controversial political policies that have been simmering in Sochi.
We’ll be screening the acclaimed documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, which tells the incredible story of these young female activists and follows their infamous arrest and court trial.
To get a better understanding of what drove Pussy Riot to such controversial performances that resulted in jail time and hard labor, Spark will be joined by guest speaker Masha Gessen, a Russian-American journalist who recently published the book Words Will Break Cement: the Passion of Pussy Riot. Gessen is a prominent author who is also a lesbian and an outspoken LGBT rights advocate in Russia. After Russia passed two anti-gay laws in June 2013, she decided it was time for her, her partner, and their children to move to New York.
Join us for an evening of insightful film and conversation – the flame may burn out in Sochi but human rights and freedom of speech are not be gamed with as the fight continues for equality for Russian’s citizens.