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The Con Artist: Pussy Riot's Riot, Ai-Caramba!, and Wasss?!
by Max Nesterak

Pussy Riot's Riot 

Following a tumultuous week of performances protesting the Olympics in Sochi, Russian punk band Pussy Riot released a music video criticizing Vladimir Putin and the Sochi Winter Games. Titled “Putin will teach you how to love the motherland” (above), the video includes footage of the band being beaten with horsewhips while trying to stage a performance in front of an Olympic sign. In their lyrics, the female activist group criticizes Putin for using the Olympics as a PR stunt and the excessive surveillance and violence used to silence dissent: “Sochi locked down/the Olympus under surveillance/Of guns and crowds of cops.”

The video (below) showing militia members beating the group went viral after being posted Wednesday and is extremely disturbing. The International Olympic Committee condemned the assault on the group, calling the footage “very unsettling” (and then said it's not their problem). One of the group's biggest fans, and certainly most prominent supporters, Madonna took to Instagram, posting a still frame of the footage with a litany of critical (and rhetorical) questions: “Are you kidding me? Are the police in Russia actually whipping Pussy Riot for making music on the streets? Is this the dark ages? GOD bless P. R. They are fearless!”  



Florida artist Maximo Caminero made international news earlier this week when he walked into Perez Art Museum in Miami, smashed a (reportedly) $1 million vase made by Ai Weiwei and calmly awaited arrest. The artist said his stunt was a protest against the museum for using their budget to exhibit work from international artists while ignoring local artists. Rich with symbolism (video below), Caminero staged his vase drop in front of series of photographs showing Ai Weiwei dropping a vase from the Han Dynasty. Caminero told The Miami New Times he interpreted the photograph as an invitation to “join [Ai] in an act of performance protest.” The urn was on display with a collection of fifteen other ancient urns, dating back 2,000 years to the Han Dynasty, which Ai had dipped in paint. Ai said he wasn’t involved in insuring the piece, but that he thought the $1 million appraisal of the vase sounded “exaggerated” and “ridiculous.”

When the news broke, Ai told CNN “The protest itself may be valid but to damage somebody's work, to do that is questionable." Caminero later apologized, saying he had no right to destroy someone else’s art. Caminero is being charged with criminal mischief.


Das Tut nicht gut... 

Dominique Goerlitz in one of the pyramid's chambers. screen shot from their YouTube video, (which has unfortunately been taken down) 

Two German “archaeologists” (read: conspiracy theory tourists with zero archaeology training and zero affiliation with any research institution) are under investigation in Germany for scraping off pieces of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The Art Newspaper reported Dominique Goerlitz and Stefan Erdmann found their way into one of the uppermost chambers of the Great Pyramid (six individuals, including the head of a tour company and local guards, have also been detained in Egypt for giving access to the pair of German “scientists”). There, Goerlitz and Erdmann honed in on the red ochre cartouche of King Khufu’s tomb, dated at 2500 BC by most scholars, but which some claim was painted on by its “discoverer” Colonel Howard Vyse in 1837 to justify funding for his research. Goerlitz and Erdmann then smuggled their samples to Dresden University (where, again, they have no affiliation) to do further “research.” Operating under the hypothesis that the ancient Egyptians did not create the pyramids, Goerlitz and Erdmann wanted to prove that a much older civilization constructed the pyramids, say aliens or the people of Atlantis. Goerlitz and Erdmann apologized for their actions and offered to pay for damaging a priceless ancient artifact. Dresden University also tried sending the samples back and apologizing. The Egyptians have not accepted their apology, and have also not responded to the insinuation that people of Atlantis built the pyramids.

Posted by Max Nesterak on 2/21/14 | tags: sculpture performance goerlitz erdmann Madonna Ai Weiwei Pussy Riot Pyramids maximo caminero miami charged Art

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