History of Art and Architecture

Michelle Maydanchik Colloquium

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 12:00pm

Room 202 Frick Fine Arts

From Cobblestones to Blogosphere: Performance in Putin's Russia

Michelle Maydanchik, Dietrich School Humanities Center Postdoctoral Fellow

The middle of the Putin era witnessed the emergence of several activist art collectives whose members sought to protest the increasingly illiberal nature of Russian political life by staging actionist performances throughout the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg. This paper will suggest that the political potential of actionist modes lies primarily in their ability to register and combat the spectacularization of politics in present-day Russia. It will suggest that groups like Voina and Pussy Riot expose spectacle’s status as a defining element of Putinism by organizing provocative performances that are able to compete with the state’s own intricately stage-managed events for exposure within the theatricalized public sphere constructed by the regime. In doing so, these artists’ actions make subject to analysis the degree to which soft authoritarian power relies on its own self-performance—as well as on the reproduction and circulation of imagery of that performance—for socio-political control.