On Friday, Pussy Riot's verdict will be read. We'll find out whether the angelic trinity will go to jail for three years after performing inside of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow for 40 seconds, or as the persecutor dubs it, "hooliganism with the intent to incite religious hatred." While Patti Smith, Madonna, Björk and most of the world refers to them as a "band," the Russian public doesn't. In reality, they're far closer to interventionist performance artists, even sharing members with Voina. As Yekaterina Samutsevich clarified in her powerful closing statement, the dangerous stunt was a deliberate interruption of the Eastern Orthodox Church's mega-produced visual culture that is supported and sanctified by the state.
This is Russia's highest profile contemporary trial where artists are being persecuted. The whole world is watching. But it's far from an isolated incident. Russia has a rich history of dissident creative culture, radical happenings, and provocative, dangerous, subversive art. Here's a little primer.