Founding members of the art collective Pussy Riot and Zona Prava, Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova and Maria (Masha) Alyokhina, will be in Ann Arbor on September 18 to give a lecture, “Punk Prayer,” as part of the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are Russian conceptual artists and political activists. In August 2012, following an anti-Putin performance in Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, they were sentenced to two years imprisonment. Since their January 2013 release from prison, they have advocated for prisoners’ rights in Russia and worldwide. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are Lennon Ono Grant for Peace recipients.
Pussy Riot is a feminist punk guerilla performance collective of approximately 11 women. Their unauthorized public performances address feminism, LGBT rights, and opposition to Russian President Putin.
Zona Prava (Justice Zone) is a prisoners’ rights NGO that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina founded in March 2014. The goal of Zona Prava is to aid those in prison who are ready and willing to fight for their rights. The organization provides information, legal representation, safety monitoring, advocacy, and oversight. In September 2014, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina launched an independent Russian news service, MediaZona. Building on the mission of Zona Prava, the news outlet will focus on courts, law enforcement, and the prison system in Russia.
Presented as part of the Penny W. Stamps Speaker Series in cooperation with the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies and Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, with support from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender.