Russian punk feminist group Pussy Riot has released a new music video and is auctioning a series of four, non-fungible-tokens to accompany its release and raise funds for their art projects and local activism.
The group first rose to prominence in 2012 after staging a guerilla performance of an iconoclastic feminist punk song in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in protest against the Orthodox Church’s complicity with Vladimir Putin’s regime. Shortly after, the group’s members were arrested for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and later sentenced to two years in a penal colony.
The music video for the group’s latest single, Panic Attack, features co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova as an avatar journeying through a dystopian virtual wasteland, culminating in her battle with an ominous doppelgänger. Commenting on the video, Tolokonnikova said:
“After serving 2 years in a labor camp, I’m still struggling with mental health issues. Trauma, fear and insecurity never fully go away, causing depression episodes and deep anxiety. ‘Panic Attack’ was born as the result of me staring at the wall for 24 hours in the middle of the pandemic, feeling 100% helpless.”
To create the video for Panic Attack, which was produced by Chris Greatti, the augmented reality artist Asad J. Malik created a photorealistic hologram avatar of Tolokonnikova using footage of her captured by 106 cameras.
Following the video’s release, the single is being auctioned as a series of four non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, for collectors to purchase via the platform Foundation. Held this Saturday, March 13, proceeds from the auction will go towards financing Pussy Riot’s future projects, as well as to raise funds for a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Russia.
Tolkonnikova’s extended commentary on the single offers further clues as to why the simulated reality — which begins as a saccharine dreamworld and degenerates into something altogether apocalyptic — was felt to be particularly apt.
The video, in her words, “reflects on the objectification of human beings, loneliness, disconnection from the environment that causes us to feel small and powerless. And it’s us who caused it with our own hands — that’s why at the end of the video I’m fighting with my own clone.”
Masha Alekhina and Lucy Shtein, Tolkonnikova’s fellow Pussy Riot members, now face two years in jail for showing public support for opposition figure Alexei Navalny during the recent wave of protests that followed his attempted assassination for anti-corruption activism.