The detention of the conceptual artist Pyotr Pavlensky, best known for nailing his scrotum to Red Square has been upheld. 31 year old Pavlensky has been charged with vandalism after he set alight the entrance to Russia’s security service headquarters,(the former KGB) on 9 November. He was lawful in rejecting a petition by his lawyer Olga Chavdar that he be released on bail or placed under house arrest. The performance received applause from Punk-art band Pussy Riot whose member Nadezhda Toloknnikova called it the most important work of Russian contemporary art of recent years.
The artist was detained after a filmed performance in which he stood in front of the blazing doors of the looming headquarters of Russia’s FSB security service with a petrol canister. On Thursday Pavlensky repeated calls to be tried for “terrorism”, not the current charge of vandalism, which carries a maximum sentence of three years. He has refused to comply with the court unless the offence is reclassified. Chavdar took issue with what she said was the court’s belief that Pavlensky set the door on fire in order to “further his political and social goals,” the Interfax news agency wrote Thursday. “How could the artist Pavlensky, who is not a member of any existing political or social organisations, be guided by anybody’s goals?” she was quoted as saying. According to the TASS news agency, she said that there was no reason to believe that her client was a flight risk. She also said that the defense team, as well as Pavlensky himself, intended to demonstrate the “absurdity” of the charges brought against him, Interfax reported.
On November 10, Moscow’s Taganka district court sanctioned Pavlensky’s arrest until Dec. 8. The artist, who had gained worldwide fame for nailing his scrotum to Moscow’s Red Square in November 2013, was detained immediately after his stunt, having made no attempt to leave the scene.
He had earlier asked his investigators to change the charge from vandalism to terrorism, arguing that others who had committed similar acts in the past had been judged under that offense.
Photo DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV Via Twitter