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© RIA Novosti. Alexey Danichev

British artists probed for ‘extremism’ in Russia

by RIA Novosti at 10/12/2012 11:31


A duo of renowned British contemporary artists offered “extreme apologies” for an antifascist exhibit in St. Petersburg that is investigated for anti-Christian hatemongering, media reported on Sunday.

Brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman were disappointed to be accused of extremism by religious groups, and pledge to never again set foot in Russia, the artists said, BBC Russia reported.

A Chapman exhibit titled End of Fun opened in the prestigious Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg in October.

The exhibit’s eponymous centerpiece, likened to Hieronymus Bosch’s phantasmagorias by prominent Russian gallerist Marat Guelman, depicts a host of plastic toys in Nazi getup “torturing” and “killing” each other.

Among other things, End of Fun features a tiny crucified Ronald McDonald, which was seen as blasphemy by 117 Russian believers who wrote complaints to prosecutors asking to investigate the exhibit for extremism.

The check was still ongoing as of Sunday, according to city prosecutors, who refused to identify any of the complainants. The exhibit works until January 13.

The Chapmans, active since 1991 and known for their provocative installations, run a risk of finding themselves in the same boat as Pussy Riot, the feminist music group whose two members were jailed earlier this year for performing an anti-Kremlin song in a cathedral, an act that the court ruled to amount to anti-Christian extremism.

Chapman brothers’ exhibit was targeted before opening by a hitherto unknown group styling itself The St. Petersburg Cossacks, who wrote a public complaint about it. The group’s members remained unidentified, and some skeptics said it could have been a prank.

Attempts to censor arts have been multiplying in Russia lately: a play based on Nabokov’s Lolita, a performance by a group of opposition-minded artists and a satirical show about a hybrid of Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi, BerlusPutin, were all banned in St. Petersburg in recent months for various reasons, and city activists unsuccessfully sued Madonna for “gay propaganda” at her show in August.

Icons, a modern art exhibit staged by gallerist Guelman, came under fire from conservative Christians in St. Petersburg and several cities of southern Russia this year, and in Moscow, activists attacked several Pussy Riot supporters and a museum of erotic art.


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