What are you doing for Pussy Riot? No cause is unworthy of exploitation. As Americans, we will instinctively empathize, analyze then produce an effort to right the wrong. Justice is served and the problem solved as long as you can throw enough money at it. Sadly, in our declining world economy, capital is hard to come by and the pockets of my artist's pants are empty. Rather than make business, we will make Art. In the spirit of Popism, American Manifest Destiny and the precedent of Claes Oldenburg's Store in 1961, we present Pussy Riot Vodka.
Read the origin story below the slideshow.
The Creation Story
When five female Russian artists of the punk band "Pussy Riot" shook the world with an art performance in March of 2012, I became a better American.
Fighting for basic democratic freedoms in a repressive Russia, Pussy Riot came to the world's attention with an impromptu midnight concert in Moscow's largest cathedral. The lyrics to their "Punk Prayer," which was highly critical of President Vladimir Putin, accuse the chest-thumping leader of election fraud, human rights abuses and suppression of free speech. Naturally, the three were promptly arrested, tried and convicted, and two escaped the country.
As an artist, I was outraged. The Pussy Riot performance was profane but benign to a Westerner. One could even say it was pro-church, for they asked the Virgin Mary to save their Russian Motherland. Pussy Riot's greatest atrocity was to make fun of the wrong, self-admiring guy. Bullyboy Vladimir Putin threw the hammer (and the sickle) at the band. Their imprisonment, conviction and subsequent two-year sentence offered no legal appeal.
My life as an artist was challenged, and my sensibility was slapped awake. I cannot imagine the horror of stifling my creativity to suit a president, an imam or a little Stalin. Pussy Riot grabbed my throat in a chokehold and tossed me into the cell with them. As an American, the oppression is absolutely unthinkable.
I am so lucky to have been born in the United States. I am so glad to be an American. I am so proud to live in a philosophical system that honors individual freedoms. My Russian sisters-in-the-arts are in trouble! These courageous patriots need our help. What can we do to support the brave women of Pussy Riot?
My artistic mind reeled with many possibilities. How could the world see the difference of an evolved democratic legal system? A copycat stunt would be most effective. An American remake would provide a loud, savvy platform. Unfortunately, I am not a woman, nor am I musically inclined. I had to keep thinking...
My comrade-in-the-arts Michael Delgado and I were sipping martinis when the creative thunderbolt shook the olives in our glasses. The sales of a Pussy Riot Vodka could benefit the band and many like-minded causes! Personally, I'd much rather have a cocktail than camp out on Wall Street. This civilized activism of good taste and leisure would keep your hands clean, the mind free and your soul burning. Pussy Riot Vodka could really do the world some good; it could enrich the arts and create some middle class jobs. Dance in a benefit punk concert mosh pit. Create cocktails called The Putini or The Red Scare. A tag line might read, "American Anarchy in a Bottle" or "The Only Vodka Banned in Russia!" All fun!
Our campaign strategy has been planned. The presentation is pitch perfect. The label has been designed and a distiller has cooked up a stunning recipe. Distributors are calling. We have been working as hard as rock-busters in a gulag. And now, you can participate in this active real-time art piece. Let's make art!
Gordy Grundy is a Los Angeles based artist and arts writer. His visual and literary work can be found at www.GordyGrundy.com.
Michael Delgado is an artist. His brushwork can be found at www.akaDelgado.com