Speaker Spotlight: Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova

FAS is proud to present the first speaker of our 2017 series: political activist and conceptual artist Nadia Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot. In August 2012, three members of Pussy Riot - a feminist punk rock band - were sentenced to 2 year imprisonment following an anti-Putin performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. This protest attracted international media attention and support from the likes of Amnesty International and former President Barack Obama.

Tolokonnikova will be joining us on February 1st at 7 PM in Shriver Hall. The event is free and open to the public. Before you come to the event, we've collected some of the best and headline-grabbing of Tolokonnikova's performances, interviews, and op-ed pieces for you to check out.

"Punk Prayer" 2012 Guerilla Performance, Moscow

The Pussy Riot collective first made international headlines when they staged a guerilla performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. The song mocked Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, ultimately resulting in a two-year prison sentence for Tolokonnikova and another member of Pussy Riot for "hooliganism." They were later released early from their sentence.

New York Times Interview – "A Warning for Americans From a Member of Pussy Riot"

Source: NYT

Source: NYT

“What happens in one country makes huge influence on what’s going on in other countries,” she said. “So, I didn’t want Donald Trump to be elected because it would obviously encourage authoritarian politicians around the world to be more authoritarian, and it did.”

Anti-Trump Song: Make America Great Again

 

“Putin created what we call in Russia an atmosphere of hatred. And that’s what Donald Trump is doing here right now.”

Op-Ed: "In Case of Political Catastrophe"

Check out the full op-ed at Billboard...

In case of political catastrophe:

1. Don’t panic.

2. Stay focused. Though don’t focus just on yourself. The question “How would I survive under a Trump presidency” is false at its core: Think about those who are the most vulnerable, who’s going to suffer from a Trump presidency the most. Find ways to help them. And then -- oh, miracle! -- you’ll notice that your own political anxiety is fading away.

3. Learn your history. Figure out what you can do; follow your plan and your social justice dream -- day by day, step by step.

4. A is for Activist: a social justice's hustler. Think beyond egocentrism -- stop asking yourself how you’re going to change the world. Hey, you can not change the world alone. But go hustle for justice anyway; make your input, your energy, an idea, an impulse. It will make a difference.

5. Be thankful for any achievement. Even if it seems small to you. Look around: You could either hate all those people and turn your life into a hell, or you could love them, and it’ll bring heaven to the earth.

6. If your government is a pile of trash - build your own guerrilla government. Build and participate and support the network of alternative institutions, organizations, initiatives. We’d better be smart and fast in creating effective alternatives in those areas where government and corporation fails: healthcare, education, media.

7. Fight for your right. Obstacles should not discourage you from action. The opposite is truth: Let obstacles motivate you.

8. Respect your mistakes. Even a total disaster could teach you some important lessons. Like: You got Trump and it royally sucks, but it may be a sign that it’s time for a radical political analysis -- it’s time to analyze systemic political diseases. It’s time to think about 1% and 99% dialectics. It’s time to question -- how it’s possible that many human beings are treated in our society as disposables; basing on class, race, sex, religion. Think about mass incarceration. Imagine for a second what does it mean -- to be released from prison and be rejected everywhere, to feel like a second-class human being.

9. Don’t sit around like the world owes you something. Give yourself to the world, be a human gift to the world -- cherish it, love it, share yourself with it. And be attentive and thankful enough to notice gifts and miracles that the world sends you back.

10. I want to exist, therefore I protest. Proclaim -- loudly -- your presence. Our scream is loud. Sometimes it suffocates us cause we run out of breath. We break our voices when we’re trying too hard. But it’s our price to pay. When you want to put something on fire, you need to burn yourself. A miracle happens just when you wish for it is so real so you could eat it for breakfast instead of eggs.