P-P-P-Pussy POWER: on screen + on the page

PR Quad Sml (1) When Pussy Riot broke out on the internet last year, I was obviously going to be obsessed with them. Riot grrrl for the 2010s, dressed in Beyond-Retro-ish frocks and masked in fluro balaclavas, they had a lot to be angry about and were a reminder of the power of youth, music and rebellion when the closest most of us get to a protest is retweeting someone’s disgruntled missive.

The new book Let’s Start a Pussy Riot curated by Emely Neu and edited by Jade French and the HBO documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer have just been released to help contextualise their story and remind us about their cause as two Rioters – Masha and Nadia – remain in prison.

pussy riotPussy Riot might look the same as any other twenty-somethings in Moscow, New York, London or wherever, but that’s where the comparison ends. At the launch for LSAPR at Yoko Ono’s MELTDOWN FESTIVAL last month in front of an audience that included PR-agitator Peaches, two Pussy Riot reps made a surprise appearance that was humbling, inspiring, colourful and greeted with some noisy applause. Their faces masked, their voices vocodered through microphones and then translated into English by an interpreter, they were determined to share their stories and answer questions in spite of the layers obscuring quick communications.

However ‘punk’ and improvised their protests appear, they’re thoroughly planned and their objectives are always clear, the girls explained. Since most of the Rioters come from a (performance) art background, they are concerned with the visual impact of their activities, and, importantly, those balaclavas are not just about hiding their identities – they’re a statement against the 21st century cult of personality and celebrity. Rather than intimidating, they want that balaclava’d-anonymity to encourage like-minded people to join Pussy Riot wherever they are.

And why not join in? The wider PR collective’s inclusive campaigning is how the makers of the Punk Prayer documentary (which follows the trial of the three Rioters last year and meets their families, giving a Russian as well as an outsider’s insight into their arguments and objectives) and blog-turned-book Let’s Start a Pussy Riot (featuring contributions from Antony Hegarty, Robyn, Kim Gordon, Yoko and many more) got made after all.

[Their latest protest video has just been posted at the Guardian. See Yoko talk Pussy Riot for the BBC here, watch the LSAPR launch at the Southbank Centre online here and follow the campaign here.]

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Co-editor and co-founder of Pamflet //

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