Inspired by anti-globalizationist, “orange-revolutionary“political” tactics and reviving a part of the Russian and Soviet heritage, the dramatic protests that have taken place in Russia over the past decade are reflections of its closed political space. The frequent conflation of art and activism notwithstanding, it is worth distinguishing between the contradictory rationales that motivate artistic groups (maximum performative coherence and verisimilitude in the interests of increasingly direct confrontation) and activist collectives (widely reported actions combining parody and literal declaration). While artistic groups quarrel with one another over who is the author of protest actions, activist collectives are divided by “political” efforts to appropriate a common action at the expense of the anonymous “citizen’s fight”. In the case of joint artistic-activist initiatives, the experience of coalition reveals a conflict of objectives, with radical spontaneity (artists) at one extreme and an appeal to “ordinary people” (activists) at the other. Behind the anti-authoritarian movement’s apparent unity, the mutual openness of art and activism in a Russia newly aware of protest might well accentuate these different ways of acting and taking a stand.
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