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Olga Zeveleva
30 April 17:47.
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Do members of Pussy Riot draw any inspiration from particular artists or collectives?
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THE AUTHOR OF THE QUESTION HAS APPROVED THIS ANSWER

Well, I found out about performance art (or “actionism”) when I saw a piece made by the group “Bombily,” the precursor to Voina art group. They blocked off a whole road and stood there with giant signs that said “We don’t know what we want.” I loved that. I thought that brilliantly reflected the general mood that characterized the times of my childhood. And then I started reading more about performance art, and I found out about the performance artist Alexander Brener, who wrote poetry.

In general, films inspired me too. Cinema was important for me. I changed 6 schools because I kept getting suspended or leaving school myself, and in the last school I went to, didn't have enough money for CD’s for when my friend and I would go to the music store. My mom told me that if I wanted money, I had to earn it, so I started working at video rental shop across the street from my school. I would distribute fliers for them, and they hardly paid me, but I had access to films. I could take several videotapes home with me every day and watch them for free, so that’s what I did most of the time instead of doing my homework. And that way, I found out a lot about cinema. When I watched Clockwork Orange for the first time, for example, I realized that this is just incredibly cool, how was it even possible to make such a great movie? Then I started making lists of movies and categorizing them, then I started inviting my classmates over to watch films – they wanted to become bureaucrats in the oil industry, since our school had links with a prestigious geography faculty, but we would meet at my house and watch these films, and we started talking about them. Then, I started reading books during class under my desk, mostly books that weren’t part of the school programme of assigned reading, like Chuck Palahniuk. And this really inspired me during the whole school process, which usually aims to impose norms on people and to standardize them. Then I started reading things on the internet, and I learned about the incredible history of protest films in the UK. The British New Wave is an incredible thing, the film “If” from 1968, for example, is great. 

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