Research: Conceptual; Political Art

Joshua Allen Harris

art-inflatable-urban-bags inflatable_bag_monsters Joshua-Allen-Harris-5 Joshua-Allen-Harris


Moscow, July 3 2008. Voina group documents the “Cop In A Priest’s Cassock” action

anonymous 21 Jul 2008 20:18 GMT Delicacies stolen for the daily pleasure of the cop-priestDelicacies stolen for the daily pleasure of the cop-priest

The afterparty celebrating the ways of Putinist RussiaThe afterparty celebrating the ways of Putinist Russia

The cop’s illegal routine was caught on filmThe cop’s illegal routine was caught on film

Inside the supermarket the faithfully dressed officer was more than confidentInside the supermarket the faithfully dressed officer was more than confident

The raid seemed like an operation common for today's RussiaThe raid seemed like an operation common for today’s Russia

Moscow, July 3 – members of the Voina group have documented a late night robbery in a high-class supermarket in downtown Moscow. The thief appeared to be a police officer with his uniform covered by an Orthodox priest’s cassock.

Activists of the Voina group had the exclusive opportunity to document a crime committed with the impunity enjoyed by priests and cops in today’s Russia.

On July 3, at approximately 11 pm, Voina’s covert film crew captured a suspicious character exiting the Moscow HQ of the ruling “United Russia” partyon Kutuzovskiy avenue, 39. The subject, judging by his posture, uniform hat and pants was a Moscow police officer. A black Orthodox cassock with a massive cross worn on top was a perplexing indicator that the suspect on film is a member of the clergy as well.

This ambiguous character, with a few apparent followers staying beside, proceeded down the Kutuzovskiy avenue to the nearby “Sedmoy Kontinent” supermarket. The officer in a cleric’s suit entered the high-class store, picked a shopping cart and began to slowly fill his bags with brand name delicacies. The Voina group was able to scrupulously document the whole “shopping” process, courtesy of an infiltrator wearing a hidden camera inside the cop’s company.

After making his selections the officer-cleric went past the cash register without paying for his groceries – evidence of a committed crime. At exit point he was not stopped by store security, who was clearly aware of the whole matter, though, apparently, was feeling incapable to intervene with the business of such a respectable double bind persona. The provided material is a clear indicator that the subject in focus was routinely committing the crime of shoplifting confident in his impunity.

After years of oppressive Putinism, at the beginning of President Puppy Bear’s term, Russia has fallen prey to police forces who have the right to harass and torture citizens in the name of the law and President Puppy Bear. The Puppy Bear and his cops are granted religious authority by the Orthodox Church.

Voina’s covert crew followed the cop in a priest’s cassock back to the “United Russia” party HQ to witness a mad and festive celebration, which took the form of an orgy in the inner yard of the party building. Photo material featuring the officer’s scrupulous dress-up before his supermarket raid serves as extra evidence of the systematic approach to shoplifting members of the Russian police force have developed while working in close contact with the Orthodox Church.

VIDEO: Viddler
PHOTO: FlickrPhotoshare
Reports w/photos (Russian): PlucerWisegizmo

The Voina group has previously interrogated Russian police in a series of actions in early May 2008 inside police stations around the Moscow area. Later that month a truck full of Voina activists blocked traffic in front of the Prosecutor’s Office in an action declaring the illegitimacy of Russian courts. In late May during a public hearing on censorship Voina made a statement on the integrity of the Orthodox community. The group is renowned for marking the ascension of President Puppy Bear to power by staging the “Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear!” action.


Innovation Award 2010 : A price for War?

In memory of the Decemberists

September 7th 2008 –  In memory of the Decemberists

‘Voina’ decided to present Yuri Luzhkov with a present for the Day of the city. In the electronics department of an Auchan hypermarket, activists of the group hung five people from the ceiling: Three immigrant workers and two gays.

Innovation Award 2010
A price for War?

The interview with Vorotnikov.

Contemporary art: What is it?

One of the most heard criticisms of the decision to award Voina with a price is the question related to the artistic merit of their performances. Is it truly art or more of a juvenile prank? Russkii Reporter Marina Akhmedova does a great job provoking the provocateurs and counterposing their ideas to those of herself, which I assume many of her readers can relate to. What follows is the first part of the interview. The first person is Marina Akhmedova.

Contemporary art is no longer art. I wiggle on my chair restlessly. Compared to contemporary Russian journalism, which finds itself in someone’s ass, contemporary art must be flourishing, Vorotnikov reacts spiteful. Art for me is something that can be made only by one in a million people, I say. My words are met by disdainful chuckling from the side of the activists. That is not what art is about, goat says softly. A painted dick. Is that art?

You talk about elitist art, Vorotnikov says and because of his tone I sense that it offended him. But that contradicts the very foundation of contemporary art, which is about transmitting the idea, that everyone can do it. We always conduct our performances in such way, that others may repeat them, the voice of goat adds. People tell us that they did the same things when they were young and drunk. Why are only some considered artists, while in fact everyone is an artist. That’s not it, I interrupt. To be an artist is a gift. Nonsense.  You have a limited view of culture. You say ‘one in a million ‘, ‘culture needs to be protected’, ‘ locked inside a museum’, Vorotnikov begins to orate. Those last two phrases I did not use.  ‘Cul-ture is – made by e-ve-ry-one, e-ve-ry-one, he makes me understand, clearly thinking that his stretched words have more chance to enter my corked up ears. Culture, but not art, I say with pathos. Art is the front line of culture. When I watch van Gogh’s starry night, I feel myself reborn, I say with even more pathos. And when I watch, forgive me, your penis, I feel nothing. You belong to a bygone era. Out of pity, we will not throw you on the scrap-heap, Vorotnikov snaps, and I thank him for his kindness. 

A little later Vorotnikov says:  Journalists should understand that culture is something that is created by all of us. Art is the quintessence of culture, like poetry is the quintessence of language. Art formulates that, which culture will later implement in each little corner of society. Like philosophy provides a conceptual device or rather the possibility to create a conceptual device in each individual field of science, so does art also create the most general, the most standard of things.


David Černý’s Pink Soviet Tank


In 1991, the notorious Czech bad boy sculptor David Černý vandalized the public “monument” Soviet Tank No. 23. The “monument” tank had been plopped in Prague in 1945 by the Soviets after liberating Czechoslovakia from the Nazis, but since the Soviet-led invasion, for decades, it had meant something entirely different, something tyrannical. Černý painted it a bright, waxy pink and topped it with a giant, poking finger, rendering the symbol of military oppression completely absurd and comically phallic. A year ago, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia, the pink thing was triumphantly sailed down Prague’s Vltala River. Prague still loves it.


Wafaa Bilal’s Invisible Casualties Tattoo




[RTA] Wafaa Bilal 2

Iraqi-born American artist Wafaa Bilal is known for his controversial projects, but this one was particularly potent. For And Counting… Bilal underwent a 24-hour live performance/tattoo session — one red dot for each of the 5,000 dead American soldiers and one green UV ink dot for each to the 100,000 Iraqi casualties, only visible under black light — as the names of the dead were being read. The combination of political subtext of censorship and very literal, permanent “inscription” make this a powerful project, and not for the squeamish.

Other works

wafaa-cover test.png

3 article_3rdi


CCTV Camera on back of his head. The reason why this piece is brilliant is because this is a true. This is a real camera installed on his head and I assume he would have done it for real, rather than just attaching some fake camera with glue so that no need to have a physical surgery. It represents the artist with his desperation that draws him to actually commit, perform in real, for real. I am amazed by his agony, purity and sincerity.


Nam June Paik
«Good Morning, Mr. Orwell»

In «1984», the novel he wrote in 1948, George Orwell sees the television of the future as a control instrument in the hands of Big Brother in a totalitarian state. Right at the start of the much-anticipated Orwellian year, Paik was keen to demonstrate satellite TV’s ability to serve positive ends such as the intercontinental exchange of culture combining both highbrow and entertainment elements. A live broadcast shared between WNET TV in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris and hooking up with broadcasters in Germany and South Korea reached a worldwide audience of over 10 or even (including the later repeat transmissions) 25 million. The broadcast carried forward Paik’s videotape ‘Global Grove’ of 1973 – an early, pioneering concept aimed at international understanding through the vehicle of TV – by expanding the concept with the possibilities of satellite transmission in real time. Although abundant technical hitches sometimes rendered the results unpredictable, Paik deemed that this merely served to increase the ‘live’ mood. The mixture of mainstream TV and avant-garde arts was a balancing act typical of Paik and met with more misgiving from art-oriented viewers than the audience Paik termed «the young, media oriented peiple, who play 20 channels of New York TV stations like piano keys». The artist personally invested a large sum in the project in order to realize his vision. Asked what he would say to St. Peter at the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven, Paik instantly replied that this live show was his «direct contribution to human survival and he’ll let me in.»



Nam June Paik, «Good Morning, Mr. Orwell», 1984
Good Morning Mr. Orwell | © Nam June Paik



Nam June Paik, «Good Morning, Mr. Orwell», 1984

Good Morning Mr. Orwell | © Nam June Paik
Pop singer Sapho sings ‘TV is eating up your brain’. Paik mixes video effects live into the image, and superimposes them over George Orwell’s counterfeit.


Nam June Paik, «Good Morning, Mr. Orwell», 1984
Good Morning Mr. Orwell | © Nam June Paik
Merce Cunningham’s minimalistic dance with 1-second-delayed satellite feedback, overlaid with a running text on Orwell in Spain, mixed with the tango music of Astor Piazzola.


Nam June Paik, «Good Morning, Mr. Orwell», 1984
Good Morning Mr. Orwell | © Nam June Paik
At the same time as Beuys is staging his ‘action’ in Paris, John Cage in New York is producing music from simple natural objects. The gentle sounds Cage dispatches from New York are overlayered in Paris by a firework display mounted by the artists Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle at the Stravinsky fountain.


Nam June Paik, «Good Morning, Mr. Orwell», 1984
Good Morning Mr. Orwell | © Nam June Paik
A reading by Allen Ginsberg in New York is mixed live with a Beuys‘ action taking place in Paris. Paik saw the linkage of US and European artists as being one byproduct of his broadcast: ‘Beuys and Ginsberg have a lot in common (active political involvement, energy-loaded performances, wholly anti-nuclear naturalism, similar ages, Romanticism), yet they have never met.’



Nam June Paik, «Good Morning, Mr. Orwell», 1984
Good Morning Mr. Orwell | © Nam June Paik
Beuys’ daughter Jessyka – in a video mix by Paik – turned slowly around her own axis according to Beuys’ directions while he said: “this is the Orwell leg, trousers of the 21st century. everbody in the world should make these trousers themselves, to struggle against world-wide materialism and repression especially on the young … look! how beautiful it looks on a girl! how beautiful it is on a girl!”


Nam June Paik, «Good Morning, Mr. Orwell», 1984
Good Morning Mr. Orwell | © Nam June Paik
Joseph Beuys carrying out his ‘action’ in the Centre Pompidou, Paris, with two pianos, two Turkish co-performers, and his ‘trousers of the 21th century’.


Nam June Paik, «Good Morning, Mr. Orwell», 1984

Good Morning Mr. Orwell | © Nam June Paik
Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel in the clip entitled ‘This is the picture’.