Nadya Tolokonnikova – Putin’s Ashes III
Dimensions: 20 x 37.9″
Medium: photographic print from original film still on aluminum
Pussy Riot’s Putin’s Ashes was initiated in August 2022, when Pussy Riot burned a 10 x 10 foot portrait of the Russian president, performed rituals, and cast spells aimed to chase Putin away. Twelve women participated in the performance. In order to join, women were required to experience acute hatred and resentment toward the Russian president. Most of the participants were either Ukrainian, Belarusian, or Russian. Nadya Tolokonnikova bottled the ashes of the burnt portrait and incorporated them into her objects that are being presented alongside her short art film Putin’s Ashes, directed, edited, and scored by Tolokonnikova and co-produced John Caldwell.
Nadya Tolokonnikova is known internationally as the founder of the Russian feminist activist group Pussy Riot. She has instigated some of the most significant actions of social justice against Russian tyranny, including Pussy Riot’s Punk Prayer in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Tolokonnikova was subsequently imprisoned in Siberia, where she was forced to sew Russian army uniforms. In true Tolokonnikova form, she used the sewing skills the regime forced her to learn against them, by creating her own anti-Putin artworks (such as this one) using these same skills. The resulting Putin’s Ashes artworks put Tolokonnikova on the international art world map as her first collectible museum and gallery artworks. They also earned her a Russian arrest warrant and a spot on Putin’s most wanted list. The art historical and political significance of these works is profound.
“While working with artifacts, bottling ashes, and manufacturing the faux furry frames for the bottles, I used skills that I learned in the sweatshops of my penal colony. I was forced to sew police and army uniforms in a Russian jail. I turned what I learned in my labor camp against those who locked me up.” NT