Written by free-voina.org   

Artists and journalists around the world! Members of art institutions! Еmployees of 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art!


This is a call for support from the art collective Voina. The dire situation surrounding the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art has forced us to resort to such extreme measures.


The project in question is: http://4th.moscowbiennale.ru/en/program/special_projects/impact.html



Curator: by Tatiana Volkova
Co-curators: Anna Dikovich, Roman Minaev and Arseniy Sergeev
Architect: Maria Kalinina
Coordinators: Elia Kulchitskaya and Anastasia Shishkova


The project team listed Voina as one of the participants but this was done against our will! Moreover, this exhibition will feature counterfeit and fake works, which have no relation to us, as well as works that were stolen from Voina while members of the group were in prison. In November 2010, during the arrest of Voina leaders Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolaev, all documentation of recent Voina actions was stolen. The theft was conducted by Russian cops (namely, the anti-extremism department ‘Center E’, created to suppress the opposition and free artists in Russia). Prior to that, the entire physical and electronic archive had been stolen by provocateurs Petr Verzilov and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. While Voina leaders were in prison, these individuals were busy spreading misinformation in the media (including foreign media), calling themselves the leaders of Voina and claming authorship of such actions as Dick captured by the FSB!


The Palace Revolution (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uBQBtnkmec),
Leo the Fucknut is our President (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-vGbKXKhGk),
How to Snatch Chicken (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=fef_1279895437) and others.


In May 2010, Verzilov and Tolokonnikova broke into the garage which housed Voina archives and took everything.


You probably know that Russia has one of the highest levels of corruption in the world. Corruption permeates everything here from top to bottom, especially in government and among officials of all stripes, as well as among the cops and those who serve them. The level of corruption is so outlandish that ordinary citizens and ordinary independent artists are powerless against this criminal system, where all public officials or art curators (which in Russia is the same thing) cover up for each other for profit and a cut of sponsorship buck.


The officials easily get away with their daily crimes. Russian citizens have long ago given up on trying to change this situation and try to just hide and survive, while corruption is destroying the country. It’s even worse for protest artists like us who openly oppose the political regime and the utterly conformist art system, mired in commerce and theft and serving only the interests of the ruling elites.


The organizers, ZHIR gallery and ARTPLAY Center, have included us in their project ‘Media Impact. International Festival of Activist Art’ by deceptive means, fraudulently and against our will. They intend to showcase fakes, imitations and plagiarism under the name of Voina. The works presented have nothing to do with our group! They are obviously doing this on purpose, since this is not the first time they have attempted these antics. We have repeatedly appealed to the organizers asking them not to include us in the event. We categorically refuse to participate in the rotten and corrupt business of the Moscow Biennale, which seeks to maintain a facade of art life in Russia before the international community.


However, our right of refusal and non-participation has been violated, and our work stolen. In addition to stolen works, the organizers intend to present fakes under the name of Voina.


This is deliberately being done at this moment, when we are powerless to present the organizers with any legal opposition. Russian authorities and cops are threatening Voina in the most direct ways, and the group is now on the brink of physical extermination. Voina activists have been abducted off the street and from their homes and beaten in the streets. Ever new criminal charges are being fabricated. Voina leader Oleg Vorotnikov has an international arrest warrant out on him, which is based on false information. His wife Natalia Sokol, an activist and chief coordinator of the group, is on the federal wanted list. Authorities are looking for her all over Russia, seeking also to arrest her and take away her son, Kasper Can’t-Take-Our-Eyes-Off-Him Sokol. In November 2010, they initiated termination of her parental rights. Voina activists have had their personal IDs and possessions confiscated. This is of a special concern in Russia, where one can not even use public transportation or receive medical care without a passport. The group is systematically hunted. The activists were forced to go deep underground and hide there without any legal means of existence.


Against this backdrop, Voina is powerless to deal with corrupt and venal Russian art curators in the legal field. For members of the group, any appeal to the courts, or any appearance in public, can result in arrests and imprisonment, at the very least. Also, just getting near the police is a ready invitation for physical violence, as evidenced by past threats and attempts. Activists have been indicted on several fabricated criminal cases, which threaten them with 7 and 5 years terms in prison. In the legal arena, our hands are tied! This gives the curators of the Moscow Biennale the opportunity to do with us as they please, to steal our works and to exhibit them, without even asking for our permission.

Voina received no notice or even a single letter from the organizers - the curators Tatiana Volkova, Anna Dikovich, Roman Minaev and Arseniy Sergeev. Conseqently we have not provided, and are not planning to provide any artworks for the exhibition. We have this right!


The curators of the Biennalle deliberately did not notify us of their desire to include Voina in the exhibition. We would refuse any such offer from corrupt art bureaucrats, and they realize it. Because of this, they have to act covertly, quietly. Their aim is to discredit the opposition and protest art. They are shamelessly exploiting our complicated situation, they are using the police persecution and the direct police order on suppressing Voina to do as they please with our works. They do not stop at anything, including deceit, fraud, theft, forgery.


The organisers have misled not only you, the participants of the Biennale, but also the media.  The fraudulent exhibition is already receiving press coverage, with our alleged participation being advertised as the highlight of the event.



Festival of Activist Art

The first ever festival of ‘activist art’ taking place at the ArtPlay design centre from 24 September to 10 October will bring (providing they don’t get arrested beforehand) yet more artists involved in political and social activism to the Biennale.  US political pranksters The Yes Men and the Silence=Death Group are slated to get involved in the loosely organised festival alongside some 30 other (largely Russian) activist-artists. The Moscow faction of the controversial Voina group will also take part and are likely to gain as much interest from the art media as from the police. Currently fighting legal battles in St. Petersburg for audaciously tipping over police cars, Voina have gained the support of Britain’s Banksy and become famous for their outlandish and often shocking ‘performances’. Their most notorious gesture was in 2010 when they painted a giant phallus onto a St. Petersburg drawbridge which faced the local branch of the FSB (formerly the KGB). Their other actions have included staging a mock orgy in a biological museum, beaming a giant skull and cross bones onto a Moscow parliament building, throwing  cats at cashiers in McDonalds and filming as one of their crew stole a chicken from a supermarket by hiding it up where the sun don’t shine.




A bold expression of dissent and protest, this festival of activist art will bring together dozens of groups from across the world including US political pranksters The Yes Men, Belarussian dissident Marina Naprushkina and the Moscow faction of the notorious Voina Group. Voina, who once painted a giant phallus on a St. Petersburg drawbridge, were recently jailed for upturning a police car and are currently being helped financially by British street artist Banksy and hence can be expected to draw particularly wide interest.

http://www.afisha.ru/exhibition/70265/ (in Russian)


International festival of Activist Art (Media Impact)

Installation, new media, performance

ArtPlay gallery, September 24 – October 10

Special Project of the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art

‘MediaImpact’ promises to be one of the most exciting events of the Biennale. International activist groups, as well as small-town Russian collectives, will soon arrive in Moscow — ‘not by Voina alone’. In addition to the exhibition with the documentation of actions and interventions, there will be many live events. The show will introduce the audience to the important work of American groups - Gran Fury, The Yes Men; with performances by the Greeks from Kavecsprojects and the Germans from Organ Kritissher Kunst.


We call upon you help us deal with this legal absurdity and blatant thievery, cynically organized and implemented by official curators of the biennale against the artists, devoid of any legal ways to influence the situation.


We urge you to boycott the Moscow Biennale, an organization mired in total corruption, blatant fraud and endless deception.


Voina activists:

Oleg Vorotnikov, ideologist
Leonid Nikolaev, president
Natalia Sokol, coordinator
Alexey Plutser-Sarno, media artist
Kasper Sokol
Yana Sarna
Jenny Curpen
Ksenia Ermoshina
Charles Swain

Voina lawyers:

Dmitry Dinze
Ilnur Sharapov
Sergei Petryakov


September 15, 2011