Eyes On and Skating Over the Holy Trinity

Encaustic Mixed Media, 2016. Based on film footage of Pussy Riot performing in Red Square.
Eyes on and Skating Over the Holy Trinity • Encaustic Mixed Media • 2016

Keep an eye on your democracy. It can happen here as well.
Maria Alyokhina, member Pussy Riot (a punk rock and political band from Russia), discussing their “democracy” with a warning to Americans,  Feb. 8, 2016, Seattle, WA


First the cops will pull you in for questioning. Then it’ll look like an accident. You’ll be fed to the fish.
Lyrics, Chiaka, latest video by Pussy Riot


I’m not terrified of [Putin] at all. I don’t think that you have to be terrified of him. He’s just a guy who claims that he has power, but I claim that I have power too and you have power… If you talk here about mainstream liberal media in America, which speak a lot about Putin, I think it’s just a trick, which is not easy to see… They don’t really want to talk about internal American problems….

“[The American political class and media] are just looking for a scapegoat and, you know, for Trump it’s Muslims and Mexican workers. And for liberal media in America it is Putin….

“I think just the narrative should be different. I have questions about current narrative Democratic party defending themselves and defending wealthy people who they do represent….
—Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Member Pussy Riot, interview International Business Times, 7/17/2017

Sources: Internet portrait photos, Video Pussy Riot Red Square concert, toy skateboard

Additional Comments

The vigilant eyes of members of the Russian punk rock/political collective Pussy Riot peer out at us from behind the knitted ski masks in which they often perform. Members of the group were imprisoned for several years for mocking members of the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy.

The central image in this mixed media collage taken from a video of Pussy Riot’s Red Square protest concert is a symbol of hope. A hope in ordinary people succeeding in standing up for their rights despite the betrayals of the past.

Concerting imagery is reminiscent of revolutionary posters from the heady days following the 1917 triumphant “festival of the people” that toppled the hated Czarist monarchy. The Russian Revolution was then looked to as a shining star of hope by millions of workers and peasants worldwide, only to be betrayed in the late 20s by the murderous Stalin bureaucracy.

Portraits of Stalin’s heirs*: a querulous Vladimir Putin; Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, a longtime Putin ally; and Russia’s Prosecutor General, Yuri Chaika — The Holy Trinity — are flipped upside down and fading into the mists in this collage.

A skateboard runs over the Prosecutor General as Chaika is the object of derision in Pussy Riot’s most recent video, Chaika. It stars Nadya Tolokonnikova, one of those imprisoned, playing a female version of him. “Be loyal to those in power, because power is a gift from God, son. I love Russia. I’m a patriot,” she raps. Her song goes on to describe how “justice” works in Russia. “First the cops will pull you in for questioning. Then it’ll look like an accident. You’ll be fed to the fish.”

*I posted this March 8, 2016. On March 13, 2016, the New York Times published an opinion piece “Stalin, Russia’s New Hero,” by Alec Luhn. Without a doubt this rehabilitation of Stalin is being promoted by Putin’s propaganda apparatus.