UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Art crimes : queering the revolution through the work of Pussy Riot and Petr Pavlensky Deveau, Adrian


With the flick of a match, Petr Pavlensky set fire to the Bank of France in Paris, scorching the façade of the Haussmann exterior while French police tackled the artist to the ground. The performance was more than merely a spectacular action, but a call-to-arms for the mass mobilization of the proletariat for global revolution. The artist group Pussy Riot’s performance at Toronto Pride in 2015 also demanded structural change, as they travelled the parade route on a military tank laden with a dildo-shaped missile demanding the removal of Vladimir Putin from Russian office. Since inception, Pavlensky’s performances are exemplary mobilizations of Pussy Riot’s manifesto entitled “Commit an Art Crime,” the main component to the group’s performative acts. Art Crime becomes art as theory, enacting tactics of queer liberation through the form of the performance itself. In my thesis “Art Crimes: Queering the Revolution through the Work of Pussy Riot and Petr Pavlensky,” I will analyze the concept of art crime as a liberational tactic through three frameworks of bodily performance: public intervention, social terrorism, and queer-femme labour. In the first section, I demonstrate the transformative properties of the art crime in Pussy Riot’s performance at Toronto Pride, as well as the situation of Pussy Riot within the trajectory of Russian art. In section two, I apply the art crime to the performances of Petr Pavlensky, Pussy Riot’s predecessor. Section three of the thesis will nuance the art crime within queer femme labour through witchcraft in The Witches of Pussy Riot clean Manezhka, molding a framework for revolutionary tactics through labour in lived experience.

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