This past weekend during Yoko Ono's Meltdown festival, I sat down to discuss with Emely Neu her recent curatorial project and text, Let's Start a Pussy Riot (Rough Trade, 2012). Neu shares with me her work with Pussy Riot and talks about the perpetually changing definitions and performances of activism and artistic practices.
In truth, Yoko Ono has a vast and somewhat unnerving back-catalogue. Some of it ("Cut Piece") demonstrates real genius, while other pieces (many of the arty statements she makes on Twitter, for example) can feel a tad trite and vacuous. But in the presence of the work itself, much of it performance art that can only be experienced in the moment, one feels somewhat overwhelmed.
A year later it all seems quite surreal. Did it really happen? Did the authorities seek the arrest of the Pussy Riot women and actually put three of them on trial charged with the serious offence of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred", a crime carrying a possible seven-year jail sentence? And were they really jailed? Sadly, of course, the answer is a triple yes.