Pussy Riot at Life is Beautiful Festival

Pussy Riot at Life is Beautiful Festival

My coverage of Life Is Beautiful Festival started with members of a punk group who were there not to perform but to share as part of the Learning Series.  Conceptual artists and activists (they don’t like to be referred to as a “band”), Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova and Maria (Masha) Alekhina of feminist punk group Pussy Riot, made a much anticipated appearance on Friday afternoon to an overflowing crowd, many of whom, myself included, had lined up for hours to hear them speak.  They were interviewed by Neda Ulaby of NPR during a session entitled: “The Good, The Bad, & The Grey.”

The women spoke of their experience being imprisoned in Russia following their convictions for hooliganism after staging controversial performances that included a protest performance inside a church in Moscow.   That protest was turned into a music video entitled “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!” and was the catalyst for their arrests.  Their protests address the topics of  human rights, feminism and opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator.  

Speaking about life after release from prison, the women said  “Once you are out, freedom is a huge responsibility”.  This explains their drive to continue their efforts to expose injustice rather than just fade away, go home to their families and live a less controversial life.

They have found supporters in unlikely places.  I enjoyed Nadya’s account of a Russian Special Forces Agent who while handcuffed to her following her conviction, expressed support of the women in spite of his position in the government.  When asked why, if he agrees with them, is he doing this job, he explained he’s well trained and ready to join them in a revolution.    Whether or not you agree with their methods, you have to respect their desire to expose injustice and to inspire others to speak out against injustice.  Their protests are provocative but not violent, at least on their part.   They have often been on the receiving end of violence at the hands of the authorities over their protests.   They appear fearless and their wicked sense of humor is as much a protest in the face of those who hoped to break their spirit as the actual protests they have orchestrated.   I didn’t expect to laugh so much, listening to a presentation I expected to be emotionally heavy.   Nadya and Masha are intelligent women of strong conviction who want to improve the world and are not afraid to create a scene for the cause.

About The Author

Karen Wiehl
Photographer | Editor

Photographer of Concerts, Skateboarding, & other adventures | Digital➡️Fujix100t, Canon7dMII, iPhone7+ | Film➡️Pentax 67, Polaroid 250/SX70, Canon AE1 www.KarenWiehl.com

Related Posts

%d bloggers like this: