Voina, Dick captured by KGB, 2010
Four days ago the Russian group of artists-activists Voina (War) called for action against the curators of MEDIA IMPACT, INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ACTIVIST ART, a collateral exhibition with the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary art which opened on September 23rd. In an act of solidarity, I am publishing their plea for justice below.
Artists and journalists around the world! Members of art institutions!
Еmployees of 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art!
More at the Free-Voina website
This is a cry for help from the Russian art collective Voina. The situation surrounding the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, which lists some of you among the participants, has forced us to resort to such extreme measures. We are talking about the MEDIA IMPACT. INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ACTIVIST ART
Voina has been announced as a participant in this project. However, this was done without our consent! Moreover, the works to be presented at the exhibition are either imitations that have no relation to us, or real Voina works that were stolen from the group while Voina activists were in jail. Leo the Fucknut is our President.
During the arrest of Voina leaders Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolaev in November 2010, the group was robbed of photo and video materials documenting recent Voina actions. The culprits were Russian police from the anti-extremism department ‘Center E’, which exists for the sole purpose of suppressing the political opposition and independent artists in Russia. While Voina leaders were incarcerated, those people were spreading misinformation in the press (including foreign press), claiming to be the leaders of the group and the authors of Voina actions, such as “Dick captured by the FSB!”, The Palace Revolution How to Snatch Chicken and others.
As you are no doubt aware, Russia has one of the highest levels of corruption in the world. Corruption permeates the country from top to bottom, especially among the authorities and bureaucrats of every kind, as well as the police and their lackeys. This applies doubly to protest artists such as ourselves, who openly oppose the political regime and the utterly conformist, commercialized and corrupt art system which only serves the interests of the ruling elites. We have fallen victims to a trap set by the curators of the Moscow Biennale.
The organizers, ZHIR gallery and ARTPLAY centre, have included us in their project Media Art Impact fraudulently, against our will. The works they are trying to pass as Voina works are unauthentic, fake and plagiarized, and have no connection to us. Nonetheless, our right to refuse participation has been violated and our works have been appropriated. In addition to the stolen works, the organizers intend to display imitations presented as authentic Voina works. Lip Service Voina
With this in mind, Voina is unable to take legal action against the corrupt Russian art curators. Our hands are tied, and the organizers of the Moscow Biennale are using this opportunity to do as they please, appropriating our works and displaying them without so much as asking for our consent. Consequently, Voina has not submitted, and is not planning to submit, any materials for the exhibition. We are entitled to make this decision.
The curators of the Biennale have intentionally avoided notifying us of their desire to have Voina as a participant. We would refuse any such offer from corrupt art bureaucrats, and they realize it. Because of this, they have to act covertly, quietly. Their aim is to discredit the opposition activity and the protest art of Voina. They are shamelessly exploiting our complicated situation, they are using the police persecution and the direct police order on suppressing Voina to have their way with our works. They will not stop at anything, including deceit, fraud or theft.
A bold expression of dissent and protest, this festival of activist art will bring together dozens of groups from across the world including US political pranksters The Yes Men, Belarussian dissident Marina Naprushkina and the Moscow faction of the notorious Voina Group. Voina, who once painted a giant phallus on a St. Petersburg drawbridge, were recently jailed for upturning a police car and are currently being helped financially by British street artist Banksy and hence can be expected to draw particularly wide interest
We call for a boycott of the Moscow Biennale, which is wallowing in a cesspool of corruption, blatant falsifications and endless lies.
(The following Voina members have signed this appeal.)
Oleg Vorotnikov, ideologist
Leonid Nikolaev, president
Natalia Sokol, coordinator
Alexey Plutser-Sarno, media artist
lawyers for the group: