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Is This Australian Street Artist Paying Homage to Pussy Riot?

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A sculpture recently installed on Macquarie Street in Sydney’s business district titled “Australia Was Stolen by Armed Robbery” broaches the sensitive topics of crime, race relations, and political maneuvering. By placing a ski mask hood over a bust of British explorer James Cook, artist Jason Wing says he was making a reference to the repossession of aboriginal territory by invaders from the West. At the same time, the mask could also be read as an homage to Pussy Riot, the all-female art collective recently convicted of hooliganism in Russia who are famous for their face-concealing balaclavas.

None of this is explicit. In his statements to the press, Wing has talked mostly about the after-effects of colonial exploitation, which he believes affect civil society in Australia to this day. “Australia was stolen from the aboriginal people by lethal force,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald when asked about the work, adding that “racism and criminal behaviour by the Australian government is alive and well.”

And yet the resemblance to the Russian art troupe’s now-famous costumes is striking. With all the references to Pussy Riot and their tactics in the mainstream press — ranging from the oblique (models wearing ski masks in a recently-pulled ad for IKEA furniture) to the obtuse (thanks for joining us, Madonna!) — it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to suspect the fellow liberally-inclined artists are on Wing’s his mind.

— Reid Singer

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  1. The political and human spirit of the time is very well documented by this artist.

    The Russian Pussy Riot censorship of spiritual values containing the reality content of the swimming pool of Moscow, by folks that tell us they are representing Christ, or Culture, or Nationalism, or commercial icons and Gold, or propaganda, what ever their agenda may be.

    Since 2011 Stalin’s Moscow Swimming pool is reopened as a Cathedral. Since Baptists often get baptized in Swimming pools, one wonders whether such a repair of pre-Stalin values is an improvement of the Words of Christ in our time.

    Russian art being persecuted as hooliganism, looks some what as the persecution of Aboriginals. In this way, that Aboriginals are being accused of savagery. Who are the real savages here? Who is the real hooligan!

    Pussy Riot is praying in a Swimming pool where people could get Baptized, but is has turned into a place of works of doubtful hypocrisy. The 10 commandments learn not to make images and worship them. It is funny how a place where people could get baptized, is turned into a place where praying is prohibited, where the 10 commandments are discarded more than in any swimming pool.

    “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
    Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
    And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” [Exodus Chapter 20, verse 4-6]

    With Stalin’s persecution of Orthodoxy, people would have to pray to Father directly, and ask Him why they would get persecuted. But now, there is an illusion that Father is served by the images in the Swimming pool of Christ the Saviour. The word “Cathedral” is not even found in the Bible, although neither is the word Swimming pool…
    And Jesus said, that John the Baptist is Elia.

    Pussy Riot, known all over the planet now as much a Rembrandt is, influencing all artists. Political, spiritual, cultural, historical, feminism, protestantism…

    @ If art-info has any use for my text, you have my permission to use it in any way you see fit.

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