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Activist/performance art collective Pussy Riot visits Asbury Hall

Music-as-protest is much in the news these days, following Beyonce’s employment of Black Panther-esque imagery during her brief but incredibly high-profile appearance at the Super Bowl halftime show, and with Kendrick Lamar’s much more specific wrangling with racial, social and political issues throughout his multiple Grammy nominated “To Pimp A Butterfly” album.”

It’s fitting, then, that Russian conceptual artists and political activists Pussy Riot are arriving in town for an amply buzzed-about “In Conversation and Q & A” session at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Asbury Hall @ Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.).

In this country, entertainers and performance artists might feel backlash from marrying politics and pop, but rarely do they end up in jail simply for expressing their viewpoints in a public forum. The members of Pussy Riot did, however. Following an anti-Vladimir Putin-themed performance at the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior in 2012, which was also highly critical of Church’s support of Putin, two Pussy Riot members were each sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Since their release from prison, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina have launched their own independent news service, Media zona,(Zona.media), which concentrates on law enforcement and the prison system in Russia. They’ve also taken to the road in this country, sharing their story and generally shedding light on civil rights issues, in Russia and elsewhere.

Though Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are its highest-profile members, Pussy Riot is a collective with a rotating cast of activist-performers that often numbers as many as 11. Putin and the Russian religious orthodoxy which supports what the Pussy Riot collective sees as his dictatorship have been the main thrust of the group’s “guerrilla performances” - which have focused on high-profile public places, and inevitably, turn into provocative YouTube videos – feminism and LGBT rights have long been central to the group’s discourse.

Thursday’s conversation and Q&A will be moderated by another provocative performance artist, writer (“The Reality Shows”), musician, cultural critic, feminist and theatrical provocateur Karen Finley.

email: jmiers@buffnews.com

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