Russia Upholds Performance Artist’s Incarceration After Burning FSB HQ Doors

A Russian court has ruled against releasing the radical artist Pyotr Pavlensky from prison, while the artist awaits trial over the torching of the doors of FSB security service headquarters. Moscow City Court upheld the decision by a district court to jail Pavlensky during the investigation into his political protest last month, RIA Novosti news agency has reported.

The extreme performance artist initially created a storm by nailing his scrotum to the cobblestones of Moscow’s Red Square in 2013. The artist did this to denounce the political indifference of modern Russian society. Pavlensky followed up this political action in 2014 by cutting off his earlobe to protest forced psychiatric treatment imposed on Russian political dissidents.

After the artist’s latest intervention of setting fire the the FSB’s front door, the artist’s solicitor had argued he should not be in jail because he has a fixed address and children and his offence is not serious enough to warrant pre-trial detention. Pavlensky was detained after his political performance was filmed, in which the artist stood in front of the blazing doors of the imposing headquarters of Russia’s FSB security service with a petrol canister.

The Russian dissident artist’s political performance won praise from Pussy Riot punk band member Nadezhda Toloknnikova, who called it the most important work of contemporary art of recent years. Pavlensky has repeated calls to be tried for “terrorism”, not the current charge of vandalism, which carries a maximum sentence of three years. The artist has refused to comply with the court unless the offence is reclassified.

“I would ask to reclassify it as terrorism or totally cancel my arrest and view my action as an artistic gesture,” Pavlensky has stated.

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