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Artists Support the Writers. Report and Photographs by

Vera Vasilieva, 21/05/12

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· Right of assembly  · Public protests  · Moscow city & Moscow region

On Saturday 19 May 2012 in Moscow a protest rally was held entitled "The Nomadic Museum of Modern Art.” It was a follow-up to the “test strolls” along the Moscow boulevards by writers, who a week earlier had wanted to make sure that they could do it without permission from the authorities.

The event was held to coincide with the city-wide "Night of the Museums".

Artists Herman Vinogradov Sergei Yakunin, Nikolay Polissky, Marina Zvyagintseva, Victoria Lomasko and others wheeled their artwork on handcarts along Chistoprudny, Petrovsky, Rozhdestvensky and Sretensky boulevards. "The Walk " began at 6:0 pm in Bobrov Alley.

The organizer of the event was the art curator Yury Samodurov.

Photo reportage: Vera Vasilieva,

“A Cage for Balloons”, “The Throne of the Ruler” (with spikes on the seat), “The Armchair of Justice ” (simultaneously a guillotine); The Rake (which we so often tread upon). A painting depicting the hands of the Kremlin, which reach out to the statues of Vladimir Mayakovsky, Aleksandr Pushkin and Abai Kunanbaev - places where opponents of the current regime usually meet up. These are just some of the exhibits made especially for the Nomadic Museum. In total there were about thirty.

About two thousand people mingled with artists. Some came specially to the pre-arranged meeting place. Some passing by caught sight of the unusual exhibition, came for a closer look, and then joined with the other participants in the march.

The march strictly followed pedestrian crossings and walkways. The police hardly intervened. However, along the whole length of the walk around the boulevards and lanes, the marchers came across parked police cars and buses, paddy wagons, and riot police on duty.

When the column reached Trubnaya Square, it turned out that the route forward was blocked by a metal barrier of barbed wire. There was a narrow gap, for the passage of pedestrians but it was impassable for the wide carts with exhibits. However, the artists quickly solved the problem, partly by untwisting, partly by cutting the wire.

On reaching Sretensky Boulevard, they all turned back, then made a stop in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art on Petrovka Street. People studied the works of art with interest, and exchanged impressions and opinions. Someone tried to play the piano on wheels - yet another feature of the exhibition created by Sergei Vladimir.

At exactly 9:00 pm the Nomadic Museum returned to the spot from where it had started out, with applause from artists and spectators alike.

But it did not quite all pass without incident. An elderly woman, who identified herself as an Orthodox believer, used her walking stick to hit Victoria Lomasko’s sketch, depicting the group Pussy Riot, then speedily toddled off.

As it later turned out, the story was not quite over. On Monday 21 May it became known that a number of believers who took offence intend to secure a prosecution of the organizers of the Nomadic Museum.

Don’t let’s forget that Orthodox radicals have twice already sought the prosecution of Yury Samodurov. The first time was for organizing and hosting at the Sakharov Museum and Community Center an exhibition entitled "Caution: Religion!" The second time was for the "Forbidden Art 2006" exhibition. Both trials were held in Moscow’s Tagansky district court, and ended with convictions and crippling fines. Complaints against these judgments have been filed with the European Court of Human Rights.