The St. Petersburg-based artist who nailed his scrotum to the ground at Red Square last year, just pulled a Van Gogh as part of a new political protest in Moscow. Petr Pavlensky climbed the wall of a psychiatric institution on Sunday and proceeded to cut off his earlobe. Pavlensky was taken to a hospital by police and there’s no word yet if he is being charged with a crime.
Pavlensky is known for brutal performance work that is invariably a critique of Russian authorities and anyone who traffics in oppression. In 2012, he sewed his mouth shut in support of Pussy Riot, and he protested repressive policies in 2013 by wrapping himself in a barbed wire cocoon. He says that this ear-cutting piece was inspired by Russian police taking the liberty of designating their enemies as insane:
The knife separates the earlobe from the body. The concrete wall of the psychiatric institute separates smart society from insane patients. Turning the benefits of psychiatry to political purposes – [meaning] the police apparatus regains the authority to define the line between intelligence and insanity. Arming himself with psychiatric diagnoses, a bureaucrat in a white robe cuts off those pieces from society that prevent him from installing a single monolithic dictatorship for all and compulsory rules for everyone.