Kitten Heresy: Lost Contexts of Pussy Riot's Punk Prayer
AuthorSteinholt, Yngvar B.
On August 17, 2012, following six months in custody, three key members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison. Their attempted performance in the Christ the Savior Cathedral of Moscow—of a punk prayer denouncing lone presidental candidate Vladimir Putin—was condemned by the court as an act of religious hatred. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova,Maria Alekhina, and Ekaterina Samutsevich began serving their sentences on September 3, 2012. Their version of the event is as clear as attempted media analyses in Russia and the west have been muddled, confused, or irrelevant. Rather than explaining the aim of Pussy Riot’s action, subjecting it to proper analysis, and comparing it by analogue with the situation at home, western media have adopted the feminist anarchist collective, making them figureheads in a unilateral criticism of Russia. Despite their enthusing about the heroism of the Russian women, western commentators hardly go out of their way to support anarchist activists in their own countries, or indeed people facing court injustices or disproportionate prison terms. In the following I draw attention to two areas overlooked by western media in their coverage of the Pussy Riot phenomenon. The first is the context of cultural activism (not popular music) from which the project emerged. The second is the context of religious faith, church institutions, and civic power in which Russians judge the performance of the punk prayer. The latter throws light on the controversy created by Pussy Riot’s actions, a controversy extending deep into the ranks of their own supporters. Of course, the overlooked context extends far beyond these questions, but the limited space available here allows only for their brief outline.
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationPopular music and society (2012) s. 1-5
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