18 Dec

VOINA is a group of artists who have been egging the minds of Russian authorities with thought-provoking public installations for almost five years now. The art collective have performed such audacious stunts as throwing cats at employees from McDonalds, staging the mock execution of migrant workers in a Moscow supermarket, and illuminating a courtroom with an impromptu punk performance.
In 2008, twelve activists from the group, including one woman with child, had an orgy in a biology museum to poke fun at the ‘pornographic’ elections which saw Dmitry Medvevev take office. Since baring all, the group have gone underground.
The biggest and most notorious VOINA piece since then must be the 65 metre paint penis drawn on the Liteiny bridge. The mammoth schoolboy doodle was completed just minutes before the bridge opened so that it occupied the landscape outside the windows of the KGB’s successors. I had to look at a penis for years when Melvin the geriatric nudist moved in across the road, apparently he was hideously allergic to closing the blinds. The FSB got off lightly. The enormous whitewashed penis actually won the 2010 innovation prize, awarded by the National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow. VOINA donated the £9,000 prize money to political prisoners.
VOINA aims to create the image of an artist as a romantic hero who breathes life into a soulless, commercial world. Art should be a provoking, emotional and topical experience with traditions of absurdity and sarcasm.
VOINA’s actions provoke the question; art or crime? Some might dismiss it straightaway as crime. It’s vandalism, it’s public indecency, it’s hooliganism. One VOINA activist stole a chicken by putting it up her vagina. This is a crime but also pretty impressive, some said it should’ve won the prize for innovation.
So, what’s art? What’s crime? Is cycling on the road without lights more of a crime than cycling on the pavement with no lights? The pavement is safer but according to the rulebook, more of a crime. Maybe we should rethink both crime and art. And while we’re rethinking it what would you like to be looking at, a McDonalds full of flying cats or a piece of contemporary art not dissimilar to a Dulux colour chart.


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