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nadya from pussy riot is rewriting what it means to be punk

Forget what you think you know. This is a Pussy Riot manifesto for getting to the truth of punk and bringing about the change we need in 2017.

Frankie Dunn

Dieser Artikel erschien zuerst auf i-D UK.

You already know who Pussy Riot are. They're the outspoken Russian musicians/artists/activists/anarchists in the news for upsetting people (usually the Russian government) as they fight for freedom of speech and LGBT rights with their brazen feminism and guerrilla performances; challenging the Kremlin in a place where it's not only frowned upon, but downright dangerous to do so.

They appeared in Netflix political drama House of Cards too, actually, for doing just about the same thing at one of Kevin Spacey's White House dinner parties. Pretty cool. Not cool, though, are the many reasons they're forced to take action; the oppressive Kremlin regime, Trump's reactionary policies, and conservative social mindsets that limit progress.

Perhaps you remember the headlines when, back in 2012, central members of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova were imprisoned for two years after donning their balaclavas to perform a song critical of Russian President Putin in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. "Mother Mary, please drive Putin away!" they cried, before being dragged away and accused of insulting the Orthodox church and undermining public order. Raising global concerns about freedom of speech in Russia and the lack thereof, their actions began to prompt constructive reactions and raise general awareness. On release, they found themselves celebrity symbols of punk spirit, leaders of an ongoing revolution and an example of fighting for what you believe in.

Now free to be awesome all over the world, Pussy Riot have been busy releasing provocative music videos and pushing forward a much needed revolution from wherever they happen to be in the world. Knowing full well we all need a bit of motivation now and then, Nadya wrote us a manifesto…

"Be persistent. Stay focused. Panic will not help. Have patience. There is a lot to be done, but it's ok.

Seduce your hangman into taking on your beliefs. Make prison wardens your friends. Win over the hearts of those who support the villain. Convince the police that they should be on your side. When the army refuses to shoot into the crowd of protestors, the revolution has won.

Take your beatings as a badge of honour. When you say that the emperor is naked, you may end up being punched in the face by the emperor's bodyguards. You'll be called demented, insane, a lunatic, perverted, a dangerous idiot. But you're the happiest sort of idiot -- an idiot who knows the divine joy of telling the truth.

Being a punk is about constantly surprising people. It's not about getting a mohawk and keeping it forever, if you do that you're not a punk, you're a conservative. Being a punk means systematically changing the image of yourself, being elusive, sabotaging political and cultural foundations, cultivating your own cultural and genetic codes, and undermining nature. So the change of landmarks is something natural for me. Needless to say, I expect further transformations. I have lots of very different music styles and I want every song to be in a completely different style. I'm not ok with everybody sticking to the same style. I don't think that's punk, sitting behind the piano isn't something that is expected, but I do this sometimes. That's why piano solos can be found in music I create.

Punk is a method. Bach and Handel are my main punk influences. I don't like the concept of a punk subculture getting too caught up in an image. Radical Russian artist Alexander Brener critiqued a person wearing skinny jeans, ripping them up, and then considering themself punk as fuck -- punk demands more.

One day tear your jeans, another day wear Louboutins, another shave your head, another grow butt-length hair again. Always undermine, transform and defy expectations. That's what punk means to me.

What's up with Pussy Riot? Why do we constantly change our methods and mediums? Illegal concerts, articles and books, speeches, drawings, posters, music videos… It's nothing but a diversification of protest art in action. The artist is not the one who constantly hits the same spot, but the one who listens to the time. I'm ready to explore new mediums and, inevitably, fail in that, be an amateur, be a fake artist, fake musician, fake actor.

'We share the same label of Anti-state artists' -- Ai Weiwei told me.

And another one: 'Fake artists', I added.

'Yes' -- he got excited, 'anti-state and fake ones.'

Look for the truth that explodes existing boundaries and definitions. Follow your instincts and you'll get a chance to break existing rules so beautifully that you might even end up establishing a new norm, a new paradigm. Nothing frozen is perfect."

Read: Bruce Weber captures Nadya and Masha for i-D's Activist Issue.

Credits


Introduction Frankie Dunn
Photography Amanda Merten