The punk feminist collective Pussy Riot translate new ideas by embedding them in the visual symbols of the target culture. With their short bright-colored dresses and tights they tap into the stylistics of the Russian female performance as non-threatening ambiance to take the stage and protest against misogyny and authoritarianism. In 2012 they performed at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral and asked the Virgin Mary to put an end to Vladimir Putin’s rule. They were captured and sentenced to two years in prison for instigating religious hatred. Welcomed in the West, they made a music video “I Can’t Breathe” (2015) using the case of Eric Garner to explain the tolerance for authority in Russia. We look at the eclectic mix of thinkers and artists Pussy Riot named as their inspirers, and use the collective’s work to examine the changing attitude to the translatability of cultures.
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