niedziela, 9 sierpnia 2015

Talking with Alexey Plutser-Sarno, ideologist and media-artist of the VOINA Group. (English version)

1. What are you fighting for in your projects?

In our actions we parody and deride harmful, repressive-patriarchal symbols, which are the roots of modern authoritarian and totalitarian society and the ruling regime. The society is not homogenous, it comprises many communities. We act against the communities of police officers, officials, bandits and corrupt businessmen. This is one homogenous group. Generally, we fight with symbols of obscurantism constituting countries which for some reason call themselves liberal and democratic.

2.What kind of methods are you using? Give an example if you can. Which of these methods do you consider as the most effective?

The first type of our works are metaphorical actions, which, in short, can be described as metaphorical images of the society. For example, our action, „Fuck yourself for the heir of Teddy-bear! Ебись за Наследника Медвежонка! » in Moscow in 2008 was the portrait of pre-election Russia. This action was carried out before election of Medvedev and published during the pre-election silence. I was was watching the members of Voina who were having sex in couples. I was smoking a cigar, wearing a tuxedo and carring defamatory, obscene banner. This is metaphorical portrait of Russia where everyone is fucking each other, and the authority looks at it with satisfaction. During the action "Memory of the Decembrists (Hanging in Auchan)" (Памяти Декабристов. Повешение в Ашане) we hung in the daylight two gay men (one of them was a Jew) and three Gastarbeiters in the lighting section in supermarket. It was a metaphor of policy, run by Russian authorities, concerning xenophobia, homophobia, antisemitism and slavery. Our last action carried out in Denmark, titled "Europe sucks!" Or "Obama sucks Putin’s dick" (Europe sucks, or Obama suckled Putin`s dick! Action, Voina ArtGroup ), was the metaphorical image of European policy where all politicians are ready to suck Putin for gas and money. They are afraid of saying anything against his authoritarian policy. This action was carried out one year before the events in Ukraine when all of our reflections became obvious. Now, after a year, we can say that this picture turned out to be justifiable.
The second type of our works supports political prisoners. The whole cycle of these actions was  conducted in the summer of 2012 in Krakow.

3. Is it humor or provocation rather than an art form?

In all of our actions provocation is not a goal in itself. It is just a real image of current authority. If the government in response to our actions is provoked easily assailing on artists with repressions, it confirms that metaphorical meaning of our actions turns out to be consistent with reality. In such situations authorities’ response triggers response of mass media. In this way our activity becomes effective because it affects minds. I repeat, provocation is not the goal. This is only a side effect, the result of idiocy,
fascistization of the authorities.  The most important are irony, sarcasm, mockery and integrity of the action - these are the main tools of our activities.

What do you think about remaining anonymous as an artist? Some decide to do so, especially those who use subversive (diversionary) methods.

Anonymity in the art of protest is always kind of illusion. Viewers always want to know the names of the authors and sooner or later this mystery comes to light. And what is the difference whether such names as Banksy or Voina are real names, nicknames or names of groups at given historical moment? It does not matter – people pay attention to certain symbols. It does not matter, all secrets will become public. Another thing is dealing with completely unnamed anarchist art. This kind of art is closer to folk art or art previousy defined as folklore. The core of it is not only the criminal aspect of actions but also the risk taken by their authors. According to the typology of folk art of protest, the author does not appear and cannot appear. It is the collective art of its own kind. The artist’s position is replaced by ideological patterns, models of work and norms of activites.  And there is no reason to look for the author because he/she does not exist. When anarchists hurl bubbles full of paint  in government’s building in Moscow, it is ridiculous to seek authors in action carried out by several hundred people.

5. What is your opinion on attitude of official art world towards artists?

The official art world is very diverse. This is not a homogenous space – it contains commercial sphere but it is also a place for honest curators like Artur Żmijewski or Marcin Gołębiewski, who work for art, not for money. Anonymous artists are also different. There are also those who simply want to get into galleries and gain money. My position remains the same despite of the gallery's owners or curators - gallery as the main space of work has already died. Artists should work in urban areas, among people, without giving importance to having curator or not.  The result of artist’s work should be the same despite curator. Curator only acts as a valuable advisor who facilitates working process or as an equal partner cooperating with artist. Gallery functions only as a place for reports of executed work, not as a place for actionist’s or performer’s work. Every performance held in gallery space is just a simulation.

6. Do you consider your artistic activity as political?

No, this is not political activity. This is a political art. This is the art about politics and social issues. The form is artistic and metaphorical. Of course, if you have a "designer" of action who pays for it and is from world of politics, it becomes a political action even with the artistic form. This is because the author of the idea is the politician and action serves his interests. However, If the author is an artist and the form and goals remain artistic and socio-political, you cannot say it is politics.

7. Do you think that artists' remuneration should depend on: their politics, artistic value of their works without politics or remuneration for artists should be divided equally because it is impossible to objectively evaluate art?

Everyone holds own rules. We do not take money for our work. If we get some money, we do not use it for our personal goals but for groups’ needs. If, for example, we do not have a camera to work and curator offers help, we are not against it. We also forgo hotels, try to live for free, usually in squats or with friends. However,  the most important is not the money but what you spend it on. For example, in 2011 in Moscow we got award Innovation "Инновация" of $ 8,500 from the Ministry of Culture. We did not accept the money but also did not return it to the state. We authorised organization that works for protection of human rights AGORA with the proviso of using money for political prisoners. The money were spent on lawyers and additional assistance. Many activists got out of jail. Many lambasted us and announced everywhere that Voina took money from the state – I spit on that because we organized a powerful trolling – we jeered the state and at the same time helped imprisoned activists.