In 2012, artist Nadya Tolokonnikova gained global recognition when she was sentenced to two years in prison for performing “Punk Prayer,” an anti-Putin performance piece she and conspirators staged inside a cathedral in Moscow. She started a hunger strike protesting the conditions in which she was being held and was ultimately sent to a Siberian penal colony before being released in December 2013.
Tolokonnikova is the creator of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist protest art collective which now counts hundreds of people among its numbers. A longtime thorn in Putin’s side, she was declared a “foreign agent” by Russia in 2021 and has lived in exile ever since. She is also a cofounder of the independent news service and media outlet Mediazona, and cofounder of UnicornDAO, a collector’s decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) dedicated to collecting and incubating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) created by female, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ artists. UnicornDAO was launched following her work on Ukraine DAO, which raised over $7 million in crypto for Ukraine at the start of the Russian invasion. She has spoken before the US Congress, British Parliament and European Parliament. Among her many artistic achievements, she collaborated with Banksy on his “Dismaland” exhibition and created an immersive experience at the Saatchi Gallery in London. She is the author of Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism.
Presented with support from the Arts & Resistance LSA Theme Semester and UM Democracy and Debate. This project was made possible by a grant from the Arts Initiative at the University of Michigan.
Series presenting partners: Detroit Public Television and PBS Books. Media partner: Michigan Radio.
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