We first encountered Russian art student Peter Pavlesnkiy when he protested the trial of feminist punks from Pussy Riot by sewing his mouth shut — a classic! — and standing stoically until his banner was ripped from his hands. Two Pussy Riot activists are still serving years in a penal colony for seconds of anti-Putin performance art/dancing. Not only is his next action risky — physically and politically — it has shock value and eloquence of execution.
Yes, the artist wrapped himself in barbed wire. The more the confused policemen attempted to untangle and remove him from the public square — first by putting a blanket to hide the horror, then with wire cutters — the more the protestor was gashed and cut by the self-imposed net.
Here’s a bit of his manifesto, translated:
The action symbolizes man’s existence in a repressive legal system, where any movement causes severe reaction by the Law as it bites into the body of the individual. It is a metaphor of animal obedience, of “learned helplessness” that puts them into an animal enclosure of the state machine… In recent years, a series of laws were adopted aimed at suppressing civic activism, the tightening of control and intimidation of the population by the steadily growing number of political prisoners. The laws against foreign agents, the laws against extremism and the “propaganda” of homosexuality, the persecution of May 6 protesters, repression of writers and artists, Roskomnadzora’s activities, and the lawlessness of police – all this shows that the government seeks to turn people into tightly gaurded and gutless cattle, which is allowed only to work, consume and multiply.