Art and Power in Putin’s Russia

Russia| Views: 135

The separation between art and power in Russia’s recent history has never been clear-cut. Soon after the fall of the USSR, contemporary art, namely actionism in the 90s, openly criticized society and entered the political sphere. This trend continued after Vladimir Putin’s election in 2000.   Russian identity politics in the 2000s were based on four pillars: state nationalism with the Putin’s “power vertical”, the vision of Russia as a nation-state, Orthodox religion, and the myth of the Unique Russian Path, reinforced by the notion of “sovereign democracy” and the idea of the omnipresence of a fifth column inside the country.1 The will to consolidate society around these values provoked, according to political scientist Lena Jonson, tensions between the State and culture, especially as far as religious issues were concerned. These issues were the cause of the trials against the exhibitions “Attention! Religion” (2003) and “Forbidden Art – 2006” (2007), shown in Moscow at the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre. The latter staged temporary events and activities based on the defence of Human Rights. For part of the national…

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