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Feminist Art Seeks to Raise Awareness

St. Petersburg showcase of feminist art at Borey gallery features lectures on womens issues alongside the art.

Published: February 27, 2014 (Issue # 1799)



  • Yana Smetaninas drawing from the graphic story Inmates of the 5th Psychiatric Clinic in Khotkovo.
    Photo: Yana Smetanina

  • ZhENA Groups stencil graffiti addresses the fear of saying no.
    Photo: ZhENA Group

Feminist Pencil 2, an exhibition of socially-engaged art made by women held in Moscow in October and November 2013, comes to St. Petersburg, even if in an abridged form and not with complications.

Curated by artist Viktoria Lomasko and art researcher Nadya Plungyan, the Feminist Pencil concept dates back to 2012, when a small exhibition by six artists was held at the at Fabrika hostel in Moscow.

In 2013, the project won support from the Moscow branch of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, one of the largest political education institutions in Germany, and featured about 40 artists. The exhibition was held as part of the MediaUdar (MediaImpact) festival as part of the Fifth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art and was accompanied by a catalog.

Related: Viktoria Lomaskos Portraits of Life

The genres covered by the more than 20 artists to be exhibited in St. Petersburg include paper stickers, activist posters and leaflets, graffiti, graphic stories and graphic reports as well as artists books.

According to Lomasko, many local galleries refused to host the exhibition when she attempted to bring it to St. Petersburg soon after it had closed in Moscow.

The reason is that theres still no recognition of feminist art [in Russia]; there is no one with a venue or the resources ready to support it, Lomasko told The St. Petersburg Times ahead of the opening.

The word feminism scares people: What is this? they ask. Will they be talking about how they hate men? While everything is clear with exhibitions of complex conceptual art there is an unstoppable deluge of such exhibitions there is no niche for what we do yet. Were creating that niche right now. It is no wonder that we face difficulties.

According to Lomasko and Plungyan, the idea to create the independent Feminist Pencil art group and exhibition arose following an incident at the Worker and the Collective Farm Woman Museum and Exhibition Center in Moscow in 2013, when work by Lomasko and Umnaya Masha was removed from the exhibition Feminism: From the Avant-Garde to Today.

The organizers claimed that the works did not fit due to a limited amount of space and their allegedly poor quality. The artists believe it to be an act of censorship because the works mentioned the then-imprisoned feminist punk group Pussy Riot and religion.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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