Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear!
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On February 28, almost twenty people assembled in the Moscow Biological Museum. Five couples undressed in the museum hall "Metabolism and Energy of Organisms", and performed sexual intercourse next to a glass taxidermy display case which contained a stuffed bear.Some of the performers were Vera Kondakova (from Ukraine), and Alexandre Karpenko (from Ukraine), as well as other well known Voina members.
The performance was a protest of the election of Dmitry Medvedev in the 2008 Russian presidential election. It took place in front of a black flag, with a slogan reading: "Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear!". The title "Puppy Bear" is a play on words, referring to Medvedev, whose last name derives from the Russian word medved, "bear".
The Voina's performance was photographed and videotaped by several spectators invited by the group. It was also described and photographically illustrated online, by Russian lexicographer and blogger Alexei Plutser-Sarno, who himself participated in the action. Photos of the performance were also published by blogger adolfych. Following these blog reports, the action was covered by the media, and met with controversial responses in Russian society.
The performance was announced as a ritual for the bear totem. Plucer-Sarno explained the reason of the action in the following way: "We do not have a goal to necessarily be radical instigators. We have a goal to be honest artists and tell what we think. We think that the government fucks the people, and the people like this. This is why the action 'Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear' was born". He also said in the same interview: "This is a portrait of pre-election Russia: everybody fucks each other, and the puppy bear looks at that with an unconcealed scorn".
Plucer-Sarno published in his blog, a commentary by artist Maria Perchikhina that described the performance as an "act of subversive affirmation". According to this opinion, the taxidermic bear, which was the totem drive for the ritual, symbolized the Russian political system termed by "imitation democracy" by Dmitry Furman, and turned into the figure of the "chosen chief bear". The goal of the action then, following the analogy with archaic rituals that assured fertility of the land and domestic animals, is birth assistance for the new political system. The ideas of fertility and reproduction, along with the national idea, form the core of the new political system. The single transgressive feature in the performance was the publicity of sexual activity. Perchikhina interpreted that transgressive feature as subversive affirmation, in other words, a resistance to the system by outperforming it (similar to "trying to be a better catholic than the Pope"). She also quoted an article by Inke Arns and Sylvia Sasse where the principle of subversive affirmation was explained.
Political science expert Ilya Prokudin commented that the action was clearly political: "The action in the Zoological museum had a political character. It was dedicated to the newly baked (we should not call him newly elected, who elected him?) puppy president, Medvedev, and mocked one of the 'national projects' curated by him, namely 'on the increase in birth rate'. For the least apprehensive, even a pregnant woman ('Nadezhda Tolokonnikova') was apart of the scene. Attention did not escape a comical Jew in a frock and cylinder on the background who spread the information about the event and naturally separated himself in disgust from the event in the same report. Here, I believe, there is no need to explain anything to anybody. 'A Jew curates reproduction of animals', a painting".
Response to performance
Faculty of Philosophy
One of the performers, in phone interview with internet news agency Lenta.ru, said that a student was expelled from the Faculty of Philosophy of MSU for participating in the action. However, Dean of the Faculty, V.V. Mironov, stated that two or three students had been expelled long before the performance for poor grades. Mironov condemned such performances and claimed that the majority of MSU students share his negative opinion.
An unnamed organization gathered a collection of signatures under a document that condemned the performance. However, an alternative group collected signatures in favor of the performance.
Press and internet
Controversial opinions of "Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear!" were published by the media. A number publications focused on the amoral behavior of the performers. Newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda commented: "They are not unrecognized geniuses. They are losers and poseurs acting on the principle: 'come, trash the place, go away'. For the PR, they would dance on a grave, and even take off their panties in public. And they do not care that after such actions innocent people suffer - metro employees, museum keepers. These actions of urban psychos stink very badly."
Mikhail Zhukhov, a lawyer from the attorney's collegium "Justice" commented that the performers' actions contain elements of crime described in Article 213, "Hooliganism", of Russian Criminal Code: "The action of the participants severely violated social order. Taking into account the place and the fact that people with photo-cameras and video-cameras were invited, a conclusion can be made about the existence or premeditation. All of this was done by a group of people by a prior arrangement. The participants have an unhappy perspective - part 2 of article 213 of Russian Criminal Code makes a provision for a prison sentence for up to seven years. Museum staff should write a report to the Internal Affairs Department".
A representative of the foundation for effective politics, Pavel Danilin, called the performers pornographers and jerks and claimed that they had put shame on the Faculty and the University.
Radio and television
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Russian poet Dmitry Volchek, who participated along with Alexei Plucer-Sarno in the Radio Liberty program devoted to the performance, claimed that the action had not been radical enough. He had also commented that the essence of conceptual art is in targeting the most vulnerable spot in the subconsciousness. In Volchek's opinion, that spot was accidentally hit by the action, making the stroke so painful.
Television covered the performance in several programs that described Voina's activities.
Videos of the action and of its media coverage can be found on the Internet.
- Video of Voina showing the banner "Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear" at the meeting of Young Guards of United Russia
- Performance video.
- Original account of the performance in Plucer-Sarno blog.
- Performance photos published by blogger adolfych
- Video showing the banner "I fuck the puppy bear" at the Dissenters March
- Dmitry Desyaterik. Moscow art-group Voina as protest art in pure form. Den, Kiev, 31 July 2009.
- Act of subversive affirmation: Artist Maria Perchikhina on the action "Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear"
- Inke Arns and Sylvia Sasse. Subversive Affirmation. On Mimesis as Strategy of Resistance. In: Irwin: East Art Map, London / Ljubljana 2005
- Pictures from the "Act" Hipster Runoff, 20 Aug 2012
- Ilya Prokudin. ZOO: Siskin against puppy bear. Agency for political news. 19 March 2008
- MSU students were not recognized among the participants of group sex. lenta.ru March 4, 2008
- Scientific council will determine the fate of MSU students who participated in the museum orgy. .rian.ru March 6, 2008
- Alexandra Mayantseva. Group sex undertaken in Biological museum. Komsomolskaya Pravda March 5, 2008