Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Besançon
Exposition // Pussy Riot and the cossacks
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Grande Galerie.
Commissaires : Andrei Erofeev
co-commissaires : Alexandra Kondrashova, Elizaveta Konovalova

Vernissage le jeudi 29 janvier 2015, 18H30.

Artistes : Vitaly Komar & Aleksander Melamid, Viacheslav Sisoev, Aleksander Kosolapov, Leonid Sokov, Boris Orlov, Rostislav Lebedev, Vagrich Bakhchanyan, Dmitry Prigov, Oleg Kulik, Avdei Ter-Organian, Gnezdo Group, Vladislav Mamishev-Monroe, Aleksander Brener, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Blue Noses group, PG group, Dmitry Bulnigin, Protez group, Igor Mukhin, Semyon Faibisovich, Vlad Chizhenkov, Alexey Kallima, Shilo Group, Sergey Shekhovtsov, Andrey Kuzkin, Viktoria Begalskaya, Petr Pavlensky, Nikolay Polissky, Viktoria Lomasko, Tsvetafor Group, Alexey Iorsh, Eli Kuka Group, Elena Artemenko, Mariya Godovannaya, Vikentiy Nilin, Artem Loskutov and Maria Kiseleva, Pasha 183, Pussy Riot group, Voina group.


The exhibition is dedicated to Russian protest art over the past 50 years. It displays a brief anthology of various genres and types of resistance art from anonymous street art stencils, stickers, posters and slogans to traditional paintings, photojournalism, social comics, video art, staged photography and performance art. It is easily understandable that the organizers put in the forefront the most typical Russian culture genre - art protest : travesty and buffoonish show of the artist or “tyranny fighter” that bids defiance to the authorities. The exhibition deliberately leaves political (biased and propagandist) art behind, together with programmed leftist or rightist discourse and the party’s official version of the present. Unlike political art, protest art does not illustrate any collective ideas. It represents an individual’s personal emotional reaction to a particular social and political situation subjected to by the authorities. Protest art is the reaction of a person aware of his/her freedom from the state machine and the collective body of the nation, a revolt against the ideas and values imposed by both the authorities and the masses.
In Russia, as in any other country with a despotic government, which justifies itself with ideological filling, spiritual life (for some centuries now) is opposed to the authorities. It comes from the tendency to overcome numerous prohibitions and taboos that basically revoke the freedom to think and act in non-standard ways. And, although, this idea is not confined to social horizons, a person’s relationship with the authorities (any - political, economic, cultural) is also an abiding theme, because detoxification from the effects of propaganda and so called “traditional values” is the first and the most necessary condition for creativity and perception. Russian artists solve this problem with the help of burlesque aesthetics. Everything around them is ridiculed including the artist himself, but most of all public cults. By degrad- ing into absurdities, which makes the audience laugh involuntarily, authorities lose their sacred power over the people. Protest art is saturated with the spirit of provocative game. Ethical dissident rigorism is replaced by ironic deconstruction that involves a backlash from the opponents. This type of artistic expression is never sanctioned and is unequivocally treated by the authorities as ideological and behavioral.
hooliganism ; therefore, a grim person with a baton, a whip and handcuffs comes into the picture to interact with the laughing artist. Today this grip person is a Cossack, an ultra rightist extremist “from the people”. Cossacks dressed in trooper uniforms from the mid 19th century burst into exhibition and concert halls, cancel exhibitions and performances, and burn books publicly. Historically, they have been serfs on the run hiding from landlords in the southern steppes and now have become volunteers in the regular army to fight against the Turks and Tatars. In exchange for freedom from persecution, masses of Cossacks made deals with the state. They were responsible for the massacres of Jews and the dispersion of proletarian demonstrations against tsarism at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, just like the previous actions of the Cossacks, the authorities entrust them with unconstitutional ‘dirty work’ in order to intimidate unwelcome individuals and dictate the order of society.


Le caractère osé de certaines œuvres présentées peuvent heurter la sensibilité des plus jeunes spectateurs ou des personnes sensibles dans leurs différentes convictions ou interdits personnels.
Dans ce cas, l’ISBA sera heureuse de vous accueillir dans d’autres occasions.

Institut Supérieur des Beaux Arts de Besançon I 12, rue Denis Papin, 25000 Besançon I T. +33 (0)3 81 87 81 30