Written by Tragic Rabbit
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Topics: Russia, Art, USSR, Siberia

Monday, 12 July 2010

image for Breaking Irony: Russians convicted over anti-Christian art exhibition; art tour to continue in Siberia
"Irony: like gold-y or bronze-y but made of Iron"

Two men who organised a controversial art exhibition in Moscow have been found guilty by a Russian court of inciting hatred against religion.

Andrei Yerofeyev and Yuri Samodurov had set up the anti- Christian 'Forbidden Art" exhibition at the Sakharov Museum in Moscow, a city long famous for forbidding both art and religion.

In Russia, it is now apparently forbidden to be forbidden.

The show provoked condemnation from the Russian Orthodox Church, among others, for artworks that included a depiction of Jesus Christ with the beatific head of Joseph Stalin.

Both men were fined and ordered to serve ten years as tourguides in Russian gulags, formerly and famously full of forbidden artists and politically incorrect commentators.

The exhibition features several images of Jesus Christ. In one painting of the crucifixion, only one piece in which the political met the religious, the head of Jesus Christ was replaced by the Order of Lenin medal.

Mr Yerofeyev, an art expert with a deathwish, and Mr Samodurov, the former director of the Sakharov Museum, said they organised the exhibition to fight censorship of art in Russia. They will have a decade to contemplate the layers of irony in this act and its consequences while leading Russian schoolchildren through mock-ups of the gulag cells in which famous artistic protestors spent their lives.

Last week, 13 renowned and as-yet unincarcerated Russian artists published an open letter to President Dimitry Medvedev, asking him to stop the trial. They said a guilty verdict would be a sentence "for the whole of the Russian contemporary art movement".

That Russia had a contemporary art movement came as surprise to many international observers, many of whom were more familiar with the government approved art displayed during most of the previous century.

Amnesty International issued a statement last week, saying a guilty verdict against the curators would "further undermine the long-standing freedom of expression for which Russia is renowned".

Back on planet Earth, Mr Yerofeyev and Mr Samodurov will be issued their one-way Siberia United Airline tickets within the week.

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