Russia: Performance artist Pavlensky released with fine


The ‘art or arson’ court case against Pyotr Pavlensky for setting fire to the door of the Federal Security Service – the KGB successor – has finally come to a verdict at a Moscow court on 8 June 2016. Surprisingly Pavlensky was released, though he was at the same time sentenced to pay a fine of about US$7,800, and ordered to compensate the security agency for the $7,500 cost of replacing the heavy oak door, reported AFP and numerous other news media.

Pyotr Pavlensky had been in pretrial detention since 9 November 2015, when he splashed gasoline on the door, set it on fire and waited calmly to be arrested. He titled the piece, ‘Threat: Lubyanka’s Burning Door.’

“Pavlensky said he did not know why he was released, but assumed it was done to avoid calling additional attention to his art. Of burning the door, he said, he had no regrets and saw it as a ‘great success’. (…)

Mr Pavlensky, whose work blurs the lines between protest, revolt and artistic expression, dropped out of one of Russia’s most prestigious art academies to join a community of protest artists in St Petersburg. Among the most prominent in this circle is the art collective Voina, or War, which takes aim at what the artists call the neo-Soviet side of Mr Putin’s policies. Members of Pussy Riot also emerged from this St Petersburg underground.”
Andrew E. Kramer in The New York Times

“Pyotr Pavlensky has turned the trial against him into a brilliant artistic performance. It will enter the annals. He is a true artist. A great master. My sincere admiration.”
Valery Solovei, a history professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the university of Russia’s Foreign Ministry

The photo on top of this page is from the video footage of a CCTV security camera showing how Pyotr Pavlensky set fire to the door of the Federal Security Service


» BBC News – 9 June 2016: [VIDEO]
Pavlensky Russian trial: Bizarre case of performance artist

» The New York Times – 8 June 2016: [VIDEO]
Russian Court Frees Artist Known for Needling Putin Government

» The Art Newspaper – 8 June 2016:
Russian political artist Pyotr Pavlensky released from custody with $15,000 fine

» The Guardian / AFP – 7 June 2016:
Russian prosecutors ask for artist Petr Pavlensky to be released with fine

Related articles by The Art Newspaper

» Pavlensky page on Wikipedia – the open encyclopedia:

Related information on

» – 30 May 2016:
Russia: Artist convicted to 16 months in prison for vandalism

» – 1 December 2015:
Russia: Political performance artist arrested

» – 31 October 2015:
Russia: The street artists that drive authorities mad

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