Spaces of Emotions

Technology, Media and Affective Activism

Authored by: Inka Salovaara

The Routledge Companion to Global Popular Culture

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415641470
eBook ISBN: 9780203081846
Adobe ISBN: 9781136175961


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On 21 February 2012, a group of women wearing colourful balaclavas entered the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. They proceeded to the front of the cathedral, where they performed a song entitled ‘Mother of God, Drive Putin away!’ The performance by Pussy Riot, later categorised as a ‘Punk Prayer’, lasted less than a minute, after which security guards seized the performers. A digital recording of this performance was then used as a music video and was posted on YouTube and various social networks, quickly gathering over 800,000 clicks. The video itself went viral and caught the attention of the international media. The group later announced that their performance sought to criticise the close relationship between the church and the authoritarian state. On 4 March 2012, the day of the presidential election, two members of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolonnikova, were arrested and charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. In due course, they received two-year sentences in corrective labour prisons. The ‘Punk Prayer’, however, created a transnational wave of activism which included human rights organisations and activist groups, was avidly followed by the international media, and lasted until the two members were finally released.

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