Artyom Loskutov is a member of the art group Contemporary Art Terrorism (CAT). He organised and participated in monstrations in Novosibirsk.
We came up with the idea of monstrations, when we were exploring the middle grounds between art and political expressions. The monstration was the second performance my art group organised – we had only met a month and a half earlier. We saw it as two things: firstly, a criticism of public politics (in the shape of protests), or rather the absence of such politics in Russia. Secondly, we wanted to give people a space for personal expression, which isn’t possible in regular demonstrations.
Each year, we adapt our monstrations slightly according to the changed political context of the year, so there’s no feeling of repetition. In fact, now I’d say that the monstrations are what bring real meaning to May 1 in Novosibirsk. The traditional political marches are just an awkward heritage from Soviet times, when workers were forced to go out in the streets to thank the [communist] Party for everything they had.
"Our front row banner this year read 'You're too boring to talk to'".
Our front row banner this year read 'You’re too boring to talk to'. This is a call to reject all form of dialogue with authorities, be it positive or negative, and ignore them instead. That way, we reject the framework they are tying to impose on us.
The first criminal case against me [Loskutov was arrested in 2009 for possession of marijuana, but he says the bag was planted on him by police who were irritated by his activist activities. Indeed, investigations showed that Loskutov’s finger-prints appeared nowhere on the bag, and there was no trace of marijuana in his blood] ended with a guilty verdict but an unbelievably mild sentence. In Russia, where only 1 criminal case out of 500 ends with an acquittal, my verdict can almost be seen as an absolution. I got a 500 euro fine for a charge that usually puts people behind bars for three years.
The second charge, in November 2011, was for a blog post about a night I spent in a police station. I was arrested after our performance on October 31, a Halloween parade in support of article 31 of the Russian constitution (freedom of assembly). They accused me of insulting a police officer in my blog post. My computer and all my hard drives were confiscated for two and a half months and my case was deferred to a court – but I still haven’t heard anything from them.”
"Think globally. Act idiotically". Monstration slogan in Novosibinsk.on May 1, 2011.
"So what?" Monstration slogan in Novosibinsk.on May 1, 2011.
"Who's the boss here?" Monstration slogan in Novosibinsk.on May 1, 2011.
May 1 'monstration' in Moscow this year. Sample slogans: "Russia, are you OK?", "It's time to pet geese", "I want to walk on a rainbow", "This is Saint-Petersbug, baby!" Video posted on YouTube by gdmitrenko.