8 Sep

… and we didn’t speak out because we didn’t paint giant green phalluses. Last week there was another seizure of (very mildly) subversive art in Russia, following the Thought Police’s previous confiscation of a painting that depicted Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. As deadpan-hilariously described by Agence France-Presse, the painting was of “Putin playing with Medvedev’s hair. He is wearing a strappy nightie, while Medvedev has cleavage bursting out of a bra and is wearing skimpy knickers.” If I could take the liberty of correcting Agence France-Presse, though, I think this description must have been written by a straight man because busty as Medvedev is, it looks to me as if Putin is doing his hair. Ugh, men. Trust a man to sexualise a painting of two Russian politicians’ heads on the bodies of scantily clad young women when they’re just trying out hairstyles.

putin_2654591bPersonally I think Medvedev should have just thanked the artist for giving him such a fine pair, but there’s no pleasing some people. Ridiculous as the whole affair is, the grim outcome is the artist who painted it found himself unable to even go home because (luckily) he’d been tipped off that the police were waiting for him there. Konstantin Altunin fled via Denmark to France, where he is now seeking asylum. Dmi and Vlad’s girly hairdo session seems not to have been the real target, though, just collateral damage. Saint Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov (a leading enthusiast for the law against homosexual “promotion”, whatever that is) took exception to another painting in the same exhibition, of himself with a rainbow flag. Milonov complained to the police and even accompanied them on the raid, just to make sure nobody was in any doubt that he was using the police force as his own personal Praetorian Guard. “Insulting the authorities” in Russia is punishable by “only” a year in prison, but in the context of Pussy Riot being banged up for punk songs plus a rising tide of street fascism and tacitly state-sancitioned gay bashings and murders I don’t blame Altunin for getting out while he could.

Among the latest batch of doubleplusungood art to be disappeared is a tasteful canvas called Wrestling, by Vera Donskaya-Khilko. It was in an “erotic museum” and it features naked, tribal musclemen Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama battling it out in a HOT HOT HOT war involving numerous giant multicoloured penises. We can all relate to that situation, right? Propane tanks and things resembling haggises also have something to do with it. I’m not sure I’d call it erotic so much as profoundly silly, but hey Vera, whatever blows your skirt up.

A detail somewhat buried in most of the reports is that the erotic museum seems to be another project of the gentleman who owns the first gallery. Good old fashioned totalitarian tactics there; get them for one thing, then see how many other trumped-up offences you can hang on them at the same time. The manager of the first gallery was also detained, with no further reports about what happened to her. Getting the whole story clear is not helped by the fact that AFP itself seems to have subsequently censored and un-published its original release about the di(ck)sappearance of Donskaya-Khilko’s picture. See the painting below if you think your poor eyes can stand it.

Wrestling850Um… yeah… shall we move on? Regular readers know how I love ridiculous artist statements. Here’s an explanation of the painting by the artist herself, via Huffington Post. In stark contrast to the picture, dicks are noticeably absent from her description:

“Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin are in a significant fight… Putin is positioned next to a gas mask and fuel container, referencing his country’s natural resources, wearing a traditional bearskin hat and fox tails. Obama is painted in front of a small Statue of Liberty and a staff of dollar bills with liberty bells hanging below his waist. …the multi-colored dragons represent the Chinese people.”

All clear now, everybody? Good.

Seriously, though, let’s remember Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous mea culpa after supporting the Nazi regime both actively and passively, only to end up as one of their victims in a concentration camp just like all the other “others”.

First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

To paraphrase somebody or other, I may not agree with this artist painting Barack Obama’s massive gold penis and liberty bell testicles but I will defend her right to do it.


  1. Alistair 19/09/2013 at 5:17 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

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