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Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky removed from Innovation competition

Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky removed from Innovation competition
(Image: Maksim Belousov under a CC licence)

16 February 2016

Performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky’s artistic action Menace has been removed from the Innovation contemporary art competition, Russia’s equivalent of the UK’s Turner Prize.

Art critic and member of the competition’s expert board Anna Tolstova told The Art Newspaper that she had initiated Pavlensky’s nomination in the Visual Art category for Menace.

“Pyotr Pavlensky agreed to participate, and a consent form with his signature was obtained through the lawyers, so there were no formal reasons not to accept the bid. Based on the preliminary online expert vote, Pavlensky scored the highest number of votes, and so went into the list of the top five winners,” Ms Tolstova stated.

However, yesterday before a meeting of the expert board the head of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Mikhail Mindlin, announced that the award’s organising committee would remove Menace from the competition without explanation or discussion.

“The Innovation prize is awarded not by the prosecutor, but by the expert community. I do not feel obliged to agree with censorship and become part of the repressive state machinery. So yesterday I left the Innovation expert board, left the meeting and did not participate in nominations for any category,” said Ms Tolstova.

Following her departure, members Nailya Allakhverdieva, Maria Nasimova, Natalya Sidlina, Dmitry Ozerkov, Ilya Dolgov and Sergey Khachaturov and Olesya Turkina have also left the board.

Pavlensky was arrested and charged with vandalism after he launched an attack against the headquarters of the FSB on Lubyanka square in central Moscow and was detained by the police on 9 November 2015.

Pavlensky titled this artistic action Menace and published a video online. In his description of the video, he dubbed the performance “a glove thrown by society in the face of terrorist threat” and described the FSB as an organisation that “operates through continuous terror and holds power over 146 million people”.

Source: The Art Newspaper and Afisha (in Russian)