A commentary that highlights the progression of Pussy Riot from a masked underground activist music group, the time in prison of three of their most vocal members, to worldwide celebrities.

Sometimes a mask can become the face of power. While some may argue that the women of Pussy Riot are hiding behind their balaclavas and risking invisibility or irrelevance, the media attention they have garnered through their performative anonymity demonstrates their reach on a global level. Within this, the group’s collective anonymity fosters a collaborative decision-making that rejects hierarchy and authoritarianism. Because every member of the group is counted equally, Pussy Riot cannot be said to only be Maria “Masha” Alyokhina, Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich; the three women who were prosecuted after their anti-Vladimir Putin performance of “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish Putin” (also known as “Punk Prayer”) at the altar of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 2012. These three women are Pussy Riot, but so are the anonymous members who have since chosen to distance themselves from them. Pussy Riot belongs to no one and everyone at the same time. This raises certain questions: Is anyone who wears the band’s accessory of choice, the balaclava, a member? Is Pussy Riot a band? A collective? An idea?


Read more in BRANDED PROTEST the book.

BRANDED PROTEST the book,
now available online.
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