Art Protests in Moscow

Source: (info), 07/10/11

Freedom-loving artists are putting up “road signs” in Moscow criticising human rights violations, embezzlement of state property, corruption and falsification of elections.

For example, according to Мoskovsky komsomolets, a sign with the words “Tandem: Beware” hung opposite the Kremlin for two days.

And in Okhotny ryad, opposite the State Duma, a road sign was hung up with the words “An Uneasy Conscience Betrays Itself”.

The newspaper also listed other signs thought up by activists, including “Bribe on Road” and “Incendiaries at Work”.

“These signs were quietly hung up in the city on Saturday night by street artists dressed as road workers,” Moskovsky komsomolets reports.

An activist giving his name as Anton told the paper that “signs like these are labelling outdoor space in a way that in some places very accurately describes reality.”

The artists believe their campaign is socially beneficial, saying that the new signs are helping to improve the city environment.

The city authorities’ attention could be drawn to signs with bicycles on them, for example. And it’s possible that this will make them think about how cyclists travel through the streets of the capital. This is something the “city guerrillas” have already thought about. Separate lanes for public transport have been put forward as an option, reports.

According to the road traffic police, however, protests like these only cause harm. “In the first place, signs like these divert drivers’ attention away from the road, which means they have a negative impact on safety,” official inspectors at a motor vehicle inspection centre said. The traffic police department explained that a fine of 1500 roubles is liable for illegally putting up road signs.

In December 2009, unidentified civil rights activists replaced Google advertisements at bus stops. In the original advertisements beneath the search engine’s logo there were fields with various search requests.

The changes made by the artists to the advertisement added new search requests like:

“Traffic police without the bribes”, “A government for the people”, “Construction without kickbacks” and “Elections with a choice”.

At the bottom of the poster it said: “You can find these on the Internet. Will you find them in your own country? It depends on you!”

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In my opinion the situation is such that at present we do not have a realistic chance of organising a large-scale mass protest in response to the Stalinist agitprop. It is lamentable, but it’s not surprising. The time will come when putting the dictator’s portrait on public holiday billboards will seem as absurd to Russians as putting a picture of the bad-tempered Old Lady Shapoklyak from the cartoons on the 100 rouble note. Common sense will prevail. We have all done a lot to achieve this and we shall do even more.

At my request, a designer friend of mine produced an illustration which I have had printed on a T-shirt. It’s not PR, it’s self-expression. I’m not expecting the people of Ryazan to understand what it’s about straight away, but I do hope they’ll ask me about it. It will be a pleasure to explain.

If you like the t-shirt, you can download it here and use it at your leisure.

Masha Sereda, Ryazan Memorial 

The image is available here in a format that enables the picture to be enlarged or reduced in size as required. - ed.

See also: Anti-Stalinist posters
Rights in Russia,
20 Oct 2011, 15:05