Russian artists are speaking to oppose Putin’s war, but may suffer consequences for it.
Kirill Savechenkov and Alexandra Sukhareva were the two artists set to represent contemporary Russia in La Biennale di Venezia, the glittering international art-world event that can turn an unknown artist into a worldwide sensation overnight. For the two young artists, it could have been a career-defining show.
But in light of Russia’s current actions, neither artist feels it right to represent that country. The two withdrew together from the event on Sunday.
“There is no place for art when civilians are dying under the fire of missiles, when citizens of Ukraine are hiding in shelters, when Russian protesters are getting silenced,” they wrote in a statement posted to Instagram and Facebook.
Raimundas Malasauskas who curates the Russian Pavilion at La Biennale joined the Russian artists in withdrawing. Now the Russian Pavilion will remain closed throughout the event, and La Biennale will not allow anyone allied with Russia’s “despicable and unacceptable” actions to reopen it, according to their website.
“As long as this situation persists, La Biennale rejects any form of collaboration with those who on the contrary have carried out or supported such a grievous act of aggression, and will therefore not accept the presence at any of its events of official delegations, institutions or persons tied in any capacity to the Russian government,” their statement reads.
Other Russian artists have also expressed opposition to the war. Over 17,000 artists and cultural administrators in Russian signed an online petition urging an end to the conflict, and several museums have shuttered. Some silently, others with statements of opposition.
Vyacheslav Volodin, a Kremlin lawmaker, has taken aim at these, calling their opposition a “betrayal.” Many cultural institutions in Russia are either state-funded or funded by the oligarchs who have encouraged Putin to take this step, so the cultural impact of this invasion will be a long, drawn-out affair.
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