This is a play on words from the movie “Pulp Fiction” — the classic movie that set Tarantino up as the MUST act in movie director for actors. I wanted to connect the sense of Putin’s criminal behavior in a gangster way towards this punk rock band as well as a reference back to the Malevich’s famous square paintings in the Suprematism style.
What inspired you to do a series on 3 paintings on Pussy Riot?
Well, I saw this legal case on the absurd charges of hooliganism and the outrageous name “Pussy Riot”. Once I looked into the case, I found they had caused no property damage, but merely made a fool of Putin and the head of the Orthodox church as corrupt leaders of Russia. I painted three to symbolize the three band members that were initially arrrested.
If the paintings are on three women, why didn’t you paint portraits?
Originally, I had found the photos I was going to use, but kept delaying finishing the paintings. The current format is the stage right before adding the images to it. I really loved the idea of square painting reference to Malevich, which would have been much less obvious with the images inside the boxes. Malevich was celebrated in the Suprematist movement as the Soviets came to power. Later his extreme modernism was rejected by the party. Sadly, most of his works were confiscated by the CCCP party as extremist and bourgeois under the paranoia of Stalin. So in a way history is repeating itself as Putin’s grandfather was the cook of Lenin and Stalin, which Putin admired for strength of character.
So why do you include the church in the paintings?
The obvious one is that it was the place of the “attacks” of hooligans. It was carefully chosen by the group to protest the lack of courage of the church to stand with protesters on Putin’s third term as president, which is close to illegality based on Russia’s own constitution. The church was heavily oppressed by the original CCCP government, which was only allowed freedom of religion after the fall of the communists. During the 1930s this church was even demolished by Stalin to crack down on religion. Now the church is rehabilitated by the post-communist leaders, but has said nothing about Putin gobbling up all the political power since his rise. I personally find it shameful to have a power that could stand up to Putinism, but does not take a stand for freedom.
What do you take of Pussy Riot rejecting the material support in their cause? They were quoted as saying:
“We’re flattered, of course, that Madonna and Björk have offered to perform with us. But the only performances we’ll participate in are illegal ones. We refuse to perform as part of the capitalist system, at concerts where they sell tickets.”
I think its consistent with their message of pure protest and hard core nature. They basically exist to bring the corruption down upon the leaders. If they did for a commercial band, they might lose some of their “street” image. Personally, I think they just want to overthrow Putin and a return of government reformation that started under CCCP political thaw from the 90s. Putin had his time and now is going too far to return back to authoritarism vs. true democracy that Russia had the chance to capture in the late 90s.