Dear friends and partners,

Petr (Pyotr) Pavlensky, who’s having his retrospective show amidst the Shelters of Babylon international group exhibition in Maribor, Slovenia, started a hunger strike today in Paris, France, in protest at “lack of transparency” over legal process in the French court.

It’s somehow outrageous, his partner Oksana Shalygina, was also imprisoned due to unknown reasons and was released without charge last month. There’s no news, where were in the time of imprisonment of both parents their small daughters and how they were treated since 16 October 2017, when Petr did his action performance and was taken by the police afterwards.

For a cultural country being also sometimes important in arts we’ve thought such repression methods are impossible. But apparently they’re not. French government action against an art statement is revealing the truth, that France is not politically lead country, but it’s in the hand of financial empire.

It’s worrying, how an art work in our times has to take very same paths against all freedoms’ state censorship that uses its law system to bring the art down as in the 19th Century. Like the process against Émile Zola. It’s a matter of expression. A statement was put onto windows of Banque de France. By burning them.

And when we’re watching videos of Petr’s two actions – Threat, when he set fire to the Lubyanka door in Moscow and French Bank’s windows burning – we eyewitness the Russian police is much more human than the France is. Now we can also see the Russian system is less oppressive than the French one.

Petr is presenting his art in public space to undress the system. To show emperor’s new clothes. When he was doing it in Russia he was addressing the political system as the main one, since in France he found the financial system to be the central agenda of the state. It seems he is right.

While in Russia he was at the court having his rights to speak, no such possibility was seen from the French court. When in Russia he was in the court for charges against the political system, in France he was charged because of setting fire to the main financial institution. In Russia he was let out of jail after being recognised as innocent and artist. In France his imprisonment was prolonged without any decision on his case with violating many international agreements and conventions against human rights, including the Geneva one.

Petr Pavlensky asks, what an individual can do in the relation to the system and he bluntly expresses his ways to react and pushes art to act. What are we within the system? He discovered to us in Russia there are political figures having the state in their hands and in France there are financial figures, which took the power from the justice and the state – this is far more brutal. Art doesn’t suppose to live there anymore.

Basics –

Detention extended for Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky who set fire to bank in Paris

The controversial figure has gone on hunger strike in protest at “lack of transparency” over legal process

Gareth Harris