Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 Berlin Biennale curator´s fetus target of Putin´s persecution of Voina

Vladimir Putin appears on Russian TV
Vladimir Putin during annual TV call-in show on 15 Dec. Photograph: AFP/Getty

A doctored image of Putin
Vladimir Putin, aged and in L. Brezhnev´s uniform (c) Moscow Times 30 Sept. 2011 (Artist unknown)

“The artist who denies political awareness is just a designer.”—Natalya Sokol (Kozlenok), co-founder of Voina Group

The Putin regime this week threatened doctors with criminal action for giving medical care to eight-month pregnant performance artist, Natalya Sokol (Kozlenok), co-founder of Voina Group.
Berlin Biennale 2012 (27 April – 1 July) Russian associate curator and co-founder of Voina Group Kozlenok (“Koza”) gives birth to her second child in January.

She and her partner and Voina co-founder, Oleg Vorotnikov (“Vor”), have a son, Kasper, about three years old.

Russian authorities previously threatened proceedings to take Kasper into state care, but Kasper, like his parents, remains on the run with “Koza” and “Vor.”

Putin exacts revenge for Voina giving him the 'finger'

Voina Group, who in January won the Russian Ministry of Culture´s 2011 Innovation Award for Contemporary Art for their 65-meter penis painted on a St. Petersburg draw bridge (“Dick Captured by the FSB”), catapulted to global notoriety.

Ex-KGB Lt. Col. V. Putin no doubt was less than thrilled at news of Voina´s award. Voina shunned the award, refusing to attend the juried function.

Voina´s actions escalated along with the state´s repression, arrests and escapes, interrogations, charges made and dropped and then reinstated.

Frequently, Voina´s Free Voina website details incidents chiding police for their drunkenness and stupidity.

This makes the spy vs. spy game between Russian authorities and Voina a moving target.

But it forced key art activists underground, keeping them moving from squat to squat and off-balance.

And currently, it threatens the medical wellbeing of Kozlenok and her soon to be born child.

Since 6 Dec., Russian federal police, claiming Kozlenok has fled or intends fleeing the country, placing her on Interpol´s wanted register.

Now she´s wanted everywhere.

Yet, Kozlenok and Kasper possess no identification documents.

Police confiscated them last year in an early morning raid and arrest of Leonid Nikolaev and Vortnikov, leading to their three-plus month`s detention until Bansky in the U.K. bailed them out with his €92,500.

He and his family have not fled Russia, Vorotnikov insisted, and the Interpol arrest warrant is nothing more than fraud and another layer of state inspired repression.

The Russian underground erupts

Vorotnikov and Kozlenok founded Voina Group in 2005. 

Its mission: employ performance art and visual metaphors to protest against Putin’s Russia. There are about 20 active Voina members, most in St. Petersburg.

Current charges against Vonia, which include those recently reinstated arising out of the “Palace Revolution” cop car overturning action in St. Petersburg are filed under article 213 (parts 318, 319) and article 213 (part 2), hooliganism motivated by hatred towards the “social group,” the police, according to Vortnikov in an interview this week.

Prosecutors allege Voina Group actions amount to a criminal conspiracy, he said.

Vorotnikov told me increased police pressure and intimidation of Kozlenok´s doctors has made it impossible for her to get medical care.

Vorotnikov said Kozlenok could give birth at any time but if all goes to plan, the last week in January.

About his partner and Kasper´s mother, Vortinkov said: “Police are trying to hunt her down in St. Petersburg. At the same time, they assert that she´s fled abroad.

Vadim Rud (an investigator with the investigations committee, and the head of a group of seven investigators handling Voina´s case) has managed to locate the doctors overseeing Kozlenok´s pregnancy (a maternity clinic on Kronverskaya str.).

“He is now accusing them [doctors] of harboring an international fugitive. This was mentioned during the 7 Dec. court session:

Investigator Rud called the doctors unconscientious for failing to report the fugitive woman to the police (according to Right News.)

Right News added: ‘If Sokol is currently in Russia, then the probability that she will be arrested is extremely high, as she will have to give birth in a month. At the moment she is in her 32d week of pregnancy’.”

Vorotnikov said Kozlenok is now in her 33d week.
“Note that from a legal standpoint, a person can only be declared internationally wanted if there are legitimate reasons to believe that he or she has left the country,” Vorotnikov added.

Vorotnikov, however, indicated he and Kozlenok would cope with this new hardship. They did before when Kasper arrived as the youngest Voina member.

“Kasper wasn´t born in a hospital. Kozlenok gave birth on a ship (which is where we lived at the time, a ship moored in Stroginsky flood plain in Moscow, locked in ice).

“So, we should not need medical help now either.

“At the same time, the investigations committee is aware that Kozlenok is being monitored by doctors in St. Petersburg. The doctors have even provided the court with documents proving that they have been treating her in St. Petersburg for a while.”

Voina´s profile rises as Russia´s persecution accelerates.

The director of the 2012 Berlin Biennale weighed in supporting the art activists.

Artur Zmijewski elevates Voina Group´s world profile

On 29 Nov., 2012 Berlin Biennale curator and director Artur Zmijewski named the art collective Voina Group associate curators of the Berlin contemporary happening.

They join artist-film maker and biennale director Zmijewski and curator Joanna Waraza at the helm of the 2012 Berlin contemporary art fair.

Zmijewski is a known art activist, a veteran objector to the Polish version of Socialist Realism and Soviet art training.
Zmijewski said his appointment of Voina Group as associate curators intends providing support for the growing European protest against Russian repression of these politically active artists.

Zmijewski plans a protest call in response to the Interpol warrant against Kozlenok, Vorotnikov said.

Natalya Sokol and Oleg Vorotnikov (Photograph courtesy of Voina Group)

Oleg Vorotnikov (Vor) adorning the Palace of Justice in Brussels 

 [Photo - Brad Downey with the help of Matthias Hübner and Yann Leguay, Voina Group activists. Initiator of the action - Alexei Plutser-Sarno , Voina Group media-artist. Portrait of Oleg Vorotnikov in the courtroom  by Vladimir Telegin.]

18 Nov. 2011

Vor in Paris, Pont Neuf Bridge
Paris cop examining the VOINA WANTED banner
In the background on the left there is Musée du Louvre, on the right - an equestrian statue of Henri IV, famous for supporting the arts

Rock on and practice peace and love.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will be at peace." Jimmy Hendrix 

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM).

This is what you might run into walking in our mountains, an ancient olive tree. Do you see the strong, handsome if not grotesque face in the tree? (Photograph by Stefan van Drake 2007).
Consider a walking vacation in our Andalusian mountains or a week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: and

Maurizio Cattelan's telling hand, left, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, Ca.,

ArtTraveler notes:

After living at the Hotel Queen Mary in Budapest (3.5 stars), I heartily recommend it: old on the outside, otherwise totally modern (26 rooms); 

The owner and staff are affable and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510;;

Actions of VOINA

  • Action “Dick captured by KGB”. 14 June 2010.  This acton had been made to assert the power of unconquerable Russian phallus. Video, Photo , Copie of deleted reportage
  • Action “Crazy Lenya is our President!” 22 May 2010. Action with demand to deprive cars with special blue signal flashers of rights to break the regulations of road traffic roughly. Video, Reportage with word of Lenya, Photо
  • Action “Concert in courtroom”. 29 May 2009. Action with demand to stop criminal prosecution of Andrey Erofeev and Jury Samodurov and to stop all criminal cases against Russian art-community, initiated by right-wing radicals. Reportage, Video, Photo
  • Action “Banning of clubs”. 28 December 2008. New Year`s gift of group to all Russians. Reportage, Video, Photo
  • Action “Storm of White House”. 7 November 2008. This action in anniversary of Great October Revolution. Reportage, Video, Photo
  • Action “In memory of Decembrists”. 7 September 2008. Dramatized “execution” in city holiday of Moscow.  Action expressed distrust to Yury Luzhkov`s policy. ReportageVideo, Photо
  • Action “Censorship SUX”. 22 May 2008. Action in defense of social art, the main school in contemporary art. Reportage, Video, Photo
  •  Action “Upbringing of cop in his house”. Action-congratulation of president in day of inauguration. Group had been hanging portraits of new president in police departments. Video, 1 part, Video, 2 part, Photo, Reportage
  • Action “F*ck for the heir – Medved`s little Bear!” 29 February 2008. “Magical” action. Video, Reportage, Photo
  • Action “Monument to Prigov”. 28 November 2007. Action in Central House of Artist, dedicated to the late D.A. Prigov. Video, Photo
  • Action “Feast”. 24 August 2007.  Funeral feast in memory of D.A. Prigov. Video
  • Action “Mordovian Hour”. 1 May 2007.  Action-congratulation of all working people with May Day.  Also action went off in token of animal protection. Photo

Goals and objectives of  the Art-Group Voina in the period 2008-2010

  1. Rebirth of heroical behavioral ideals of an artist-intellectual, in a manner of Russian libertarian decemberism. Creation of image of artist as romantic hero, who prevail over the evil. Creation of lively romantic models in today`s soulless commercial conceptual art.
  2. Rebirth of lively expressive art, which is sincere and honest and provoking observers` deep emotional experience. Actualization  of monumental expressive genres, where large scale harmonizes with totally rich in content orientation, in contrast to outdated hypertrophy of forms, which deovid of sense.
  3. Creation of innovative topical art-language, which is producing for pure art, but not for a money. It is mean language, which is adequate for today’s cultural and socio-political context, which is can show actual of the new epoch, which have no analogues in the past. Creation of Russian national actual art, without outmodedness and provinciality, and which provokes admiration of intellectuals all over the world.
  4. Rebirth of Russian laughing culture, traditions of absurdity and sarcasm in context of high art, that is Rebirth of lively merriment in the art-spaces. Creation of political street-art in Russia in the best traditions of skomorokh and carnival middle-age art.
  5. Conceptual destruction of glamour timeserving and conformist Russian art-market, which is reproducing outdated forms of art, artificially falsifying processes of pricing of art-market and creating financial pyramid from devalued art-junk.
  6. Creating of real left front of art in Russia in traditions of futurism of 1920 years, which is radically shift all ideological poles by the facts of its being. Rebirth of political protest art all over the world.
  7.  War with “werewolfes in straps” for the freedom of contemporary art. War with socio-political obscurantism and ultra-right reaction for the triumph of nano-modernization in Russia. Subversion and destruction of outdated repressive-patriarchal socio-political symbols and ideologies. Art-war against all global world for total triumph of justice in Art-Area.
Yulia Tikhonova. ‘Voina in a Company of Pranksters’
Yulia Tikhonova. ‘Innovation Prize, Moscow 2011’

For a longer list of publications see here:

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