Moscow art smashed as Ortho­dox ac­tivists de­nounce ‘blas­phemy’


Sculp­tures by a renowned Soviet artist on show in cen­tral Moscow were smashed af­ter be­ing de­nounced by Ortho­dox ac­tivists as “blas­phe­mous”

“Delu­sional peo­ple came to the ex­hi­bi­tion who broke sev­eral works be­long­ing to the Ma­nege col­lec­tion, by Vadim Sidur,” said a spokes­woman for the Ma­nege art cen­ter by the Krem­lin walls, Ye­lena Kar­neyeva, re­fer­ring to the ac­tivists.

“Sev­eral sculp­tures are com­pletely smashed,” she told AFP, adding that po­lice had come and led away the ac­tivists. The works were made of plas­ter and linoleum.

A po­lice spokesman told AFP that he could “con­firm the in­ci­dent hap­pened and that cur­rently all the par­tic­i­pants of the con­flict have been taken to the sta­tion to write state­ments.”

A well-known Ortho­dox ac­tivist Dmitry Tso­ri­onov, known by the nick­name Dmitry En­teo, ear­lier said he was at the Ma­nege ex­hi­bi­tion cen­ter.

“We called the po­lice,” he said. “They will close the ex­hi­bi­tion for of­fend­ing be­liev­ers.”

En­teo, quoted by In­ter­fax news agency, had said the ex­hi­bi­tion in­cluded an “in­de­cent” de­pic­tion of Je­sus Christ and was “dirty, harsh mock­ery of Je­sus Christ and the saints.”

The head of the na­tion­al­ist God’s Will group is a prom­i­nent con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist. He cites Ortho­dox val­ues while pick­et­ing and heck­ling at arts events and protests, some­times with a tele­vi­sion cam­era crew in tow. This year he at­tempted to stop a gay pride rally in Moscow.

The ex­hi­bi­tion called “Sculp­tures that We Don’t See,” showed works by Soviet sculp­tors that did not see the light of day dur­ing the Soviet pe­riod be- cause they were non- con­form­ist.

The show, which opened to the public Fri­day, in­cluded some works with re­li­gious themes in­clud­ing a cru­ci­fix­ion bas-re­lief.

Sidur was an avant-garde artist un­able to show his non-con­form­ist works pub­licly in the Soviet era. He died in 1986. A mu­seum in Moscow is now ded­i­cated to his work and his art has been sold at in­ter­na­tional auc­tion houses such as Sotheby’s.

Fri­day’s at­tack on his works swiftly prompted con­dem­na­tion.

“Now Ortho­dox war­riors are smash­ing a sculp­ture ex­hi­bi­tion in the cen­ter of Moscow. Hail the Rus­sian IS,” Vladimir Var­fo­moleyev, a jour­nal­ist at pop­u­lar Echo of Moscow ra­dio sta­tion, wrote in a Tweet.

‘Warn­ing, re­li­gion!’

Artist Alexei Knedlyakovsky, whose in­stal­la­tion about the Rus­sian protest move­ment was dam- aged by En­teo last year, wrote in a Tweet: “Maybe af­ter this En­teo will fi­nally get jailed?”

An Ortho­dox Church spokesman, Vladimir Le­goida told RIA Novosti news agency there must be a “le­gal as­sess­ment” of the at­tack, while stress­ing that be­liev­ers “un­doubt­edly have the right to protest.”

In re­cent years, re­li­gious fun­da­men­tal­ist ac­tivists have tar­geted a num­ber of ex­hi­bi­tions in Moscow and forced them to shut down, while or­ga­niz­ers have been fined for in­cit­ing ha­tred.

In 2007, ac­tivists at­tacked an ex­hi­bi­tion at Moscow’s Sakharov Cen­ter called “Warn­ing, Re­li­gion!”, com­plain­ing it in­sulted be­liev­ers.

The ex­hi­bi­tion in­cluded a print of Je­sus with the head of Mickey Mouse and a spoof ad for Coca-Cola with the slo­gan “This is my Blood.”

Rus­sia in 2010 con­victed the or­ga­niz­ers of in­cit­ing re­li­gious ha­tred and fined them.

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