Photo by: ericzim, titled "church of pussy riot magdeburg", CC BY-SA 2.0, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ariczzz/6969499030/ question printed on photo: thequestion
Olga Zeveleva
May 2017.
65

What does the term "punk" stand for?

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When I use the word “punk”, I mean more the lifestyle rather than the musical genre. To me, “punk” stands for something like “fuck the norm.” The word “norm” is one of the most important words in this regard. If you’ve read the Russian novelist Vladimir Sorokin and his depictions of “the norm” in his books about the Soviet period, you’ll know what I mean. When I was a kid and a teenager, being “normal” meant being like everyone else, and of course no one should have to be like anyone else. The fundamental principle I try to follow is to fight against the standardization of people, the turning of people into parts of a single mechanism and into soldiers of some kind of state army. That everyday fight is what “punk” means to me, and I view Pussy Riot as a sort of punk team.

If I had to project this idea on the political system of Russia, if I had to look at who is responsible for winding up the entire machine that standardizes people, I would say that the process happens all throughout society. It’s the most obvious and blunt at the level of the prison system, where everyone has to wear the same uniform with a tag and a number, and you toil away sewing police uniforms 14 hours a day. But this exact thing happens absolutely everywhere throughout the social order.

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