By Alissa Fleck
Pussy Riot supporters worldwide will be disappointed to hear this morning’s news. Just before 8 a.m. EST, David M. Herszenhorn, the New York Times reporter based in Moscow, reported members of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot were given a guilty verdict on charges of hooliganism for an impromptu anti-Putin concert put on in Cathedral of Christ the Savior in February. They have been in prison, awaiting charges, ever since then.
Pussy Riot, a group which formed in only 2011, regularly stages similar, politically-charged performances in Moscow. The group consists of at least 10 members, who take measures to remain anonymous, including wearing balaclavas along with their brightly-colored dresses and tights. The Times reports Pussy Riot is “far more political than musical” as “[they] have never released a song or an album.”
Barely a fraction of the people in line outside the Ace Hotel in mid-Manhattan last night, a line which wound all the way around the block, made it inside the hotel’s dark basement bar for the protest in solidarity with the group. Similar protests took place worldwide, including outside the courtroom where the women were to be tried. Herszenhorn reported many of these protesters were also arrested.
People of all ages came together in the hotel basement, some wearing balaclavas and “Free Pussy Riot” t-shirts, many more wearing bright, flashy dresses, to join in the protest.
Artists and writers, including Eileen Myles, Chloe Sevigny and K8 Hardy, took to the stage to conduct dramatic readings of correspondences by incarcerated members of Pussy Riot, song lyrics (such as those to “Putin Pissed Himself”), court transcripts and letters from celebrities in support, like Yoko Ono.
The women’s statements were laced with philosophy and political commentary, as well as humor. “We made a prayer in the church with the wrong intonation,” they said, of their 40 second performance, and: “We are not messiahs…but who knows.”
The group also mocked charges against them, including that they “intentionally bought clothes for the occasion,” explaining the dresses, tights and balaclavas were, in fact, their customary garb.
Channing Powell and Ana Veselic said the New York Pussy Riot protest was the first event they had attended in support of the group, and found the turnout interesting. They knew nothing of the group until they stumbled upon the recent controversy in the Times.
“Then I went and read about it in Jezebel,” said Veselic, “I knew they’d have something about it.” The interest grew from there.
“I think we compare them to Western chicks and identify with them, because of their clothes and stuff,” said Veselic. “And we think in America, it would be better. But would it be?”
Powell said she had listened to the group’s music, and while she couldn’t understand it, it had “an interesting aesthetic.”
“They’re obviously intelligent and incredibly eloquent,” she added.
They also made predictions about the trial’s outcome. Veselic thought the women would be released. “I think they’re going down, sadly,” said Powell. “There would be too much embarrassment in releasing them, Putin has an ego.”
As of this morning, the women are still waiting to be sentenced.
Tags: Ace Hotel, Balaclava, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Chloe Sevigny, David M. Herszenhorn, Eileen Myles, feminism, K8 Hardy, manhattan, Moscow, Punk, Pussy Riot, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Yoko Ono
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