Art, Chains & Freedom


I hate Twitter. I don't get it. And when I don't get it, I feel like a dumb ass. I hate feeling like a dumb ass.

I can't deny its power. There is evidence of the ability of this platform to draw world wide attention to the social, political, and democratic concerns of a people. I love that.  

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei reportedly spends eight hours a day on Twitter, cleverly calling for dissidence and celebrating the wonders of individualism under the watchful eye of a regime with a very different agenda.

The role of social media in the Arab spring is still being debated. What can't be denied is that when Egyptian authorities shut off the Internet, the people flocked to the streets. Standing shoulder to shoulder, they overturned a government. The struggle continues, but the thought of a little blue bird helping to topple a thirty-year-president is pretty intriguing.

I had planned to spend the whole month of December chatting you up about artful living in your home spaces. Then Nelson Mandela died. And I began to think instead about the role artists have played in political protest.  

I thought first to look to history, but we would be here forever, and it's too easy to romanticize the past.

Change is brutal. It requires sacrifice. And when Russian protest band PUSSY RIOT showed up uninvited at the national cathedral, asking through song, for the mother of God to become a feminist and get rid of Putin, they landed in prison - Russian prison. Twitter is still not happy.

These women captured my attention on Facebook - the social media site that makes me feel like a super smart ass. Their colorful balaclavas and girly girl brand of feminism had me cheering from across the seas. They smiled for the cameras, spoke brilliantly about their beliefs, and were sent away for it too. Pussy Riot's protest song lasted less than one minute, but it made Vladimir Putin shake in his boots. A song did this. A song sang only last year.

At the beginning of the documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, a quote by Bertolt Brecht reads:

"Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it."

How does your work redefine our world?

Follow @freepussyriot on Twitter to learn how you can take action in the global fight for gender equality and freedom of expression.

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