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Russian backlash over transvestite Eurovision winner intensifies

12 May 2014
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Conchita Wurst performing at the Eurovision song contest last week

Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky has said it is not within his jurisdiction to ban this year’s Eurovision song contest winner, the Austrian transvestite Conchita Wurst, from performing in Russia. His remarks came in response to a plea from Vitaly Milonov, the politician who initiated the “gay propaganda” law in St Petersburg, to prohibit Wurst from travelling to Russia. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Culture said the department was unable to ban “visits from bearded men or women to Russia”.

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‘Motherland’ exhibition goes on show at the Moscow Museum

12 May 2014
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  • Photograph: Fyodor Telkov

  • Photograph: Alexander Petrosyan

  • Photograph: Alexander Sorin

  • Photograph: Anastasia Tsaider

  • Photograph: Daria Tuminas

  • Photograph: Vladimir Dubrovsky

A new photography exhibition attempts to show Russia’s vast and varied landscape with images featuring scenes from Russian enclave Kaliningrad in the west over to the Kuril Islands in the far east. How Do You Start a Motherland? at the Moscow Museum showcases the work of 36 photographers living all over Russia who were asked to answer the question in the exhibition’s title. 

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More images of pro-separatist pets flood the Russian internet

9 May 2014
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When the US slapped down sanctions on Russia in March, the nation’s pets took to the internet to vent their anger. Now, with pro-Russian separatists occupying public buildings in eastern Ukraine and a referendum on the horizon, the country’s cats, dogs, rabbits and even crabs are nailing their colours to the mast by donning the orange-and-black St George Ribbon, a symbol of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany. Images of these (adorable) pro-separatist pets began to flood the internet earlier this week with the #сепаратяка (“little separatist”) hashtag, with more being published by the hour. 

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This week: a round-up of Russian cultural news

9 May 2014
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The Tolmachevy Sisters representing Russia at this year's Eurovision song contest

Pussy Riot talks to US congress about prisoners’ rights in Russia; Vladimir Putin bans profanity in the arts; and Russia’s first hotel for cats opens in Moscow. A quick look at this week’s top cultural stories from Russia. 

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Experimental theatre and graffiti come together in Voronezh for one-off show

9 May 2014 · Voronezh
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The Voronezh-based experimental theatre troupe Informal (Neformat) will use an exhibition from street artist Lastik as a backdrop for a new, one-off show at Actor’s House cultural space next week. The exhibition comprises sketches and stencils for Lastik’s future work on contemporary social issues, which the troupe will use as inspiration for their performance, privileging topics such as the internet’s effect on social disunity, the dominance of technology and environmental concerns. 

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Chris Shaw photography exhibition returns to Russia

8 May 2014 · Moscow
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Chris Shaw, Lounge Blizzard (1999)

British documentary photographer Chris Shaw’s images of the swanky hotels and seedy motels of London, Paris and New York have gone on show at the Multimedia Art Museum Moscow, marking ten years since the exhibition went on tour. The collection of photographs that make up Life as a Night Porter serve as a diary of Shaw’s ten-year stint as a porter in hotels in the three capitals. 

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Plans to open “Russian Tate Modern” underway

6 May 2014 · Moscow
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Tate Modern gallery. Photograph: Jim Bowen under a CC licence

Moscow will soon have its equivalent of London's Tate Modern art gallery with Constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov's bus garage near Kazan station tipped as the most likely location for the new museum. In an interview with The Art Newspaper, Marina Loshak, the director of Moscow's Pushkin Museum, revealed plans for the new space, which has already been dubbed the "Pushkin Modern". 

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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s brave new world

6 May 2014
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  • The White Chapel (2014). Courtesy: Ilya et Emilia Kabakov / ADAGP, Paris

  • The Dark Chapel (2014). Ilya et Emilia Kabakov / ADAGP, Paris 2014

  • How To Meet An Angel (2014). Ilya et Emilia Kabakov / ADAGP, Paris 2014

Renowned Russian-born artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov will create an indoor utopian city as the centrepiece of Monumenta, an annual arts event at the Grand Palais museum in Paris, which opens this Sunday. The husband-and-wife's work, a large-scale, imaginary town entitled The Strange City, draws on a number of references from the Renaissance, Romanticism and modern science, to create an alternate reality in which themes of the progress of humankind and the desire for the metaphysical world are explored. Emilia Kabakov said: “Constructing The Strange City is to insist on the experience rather than on the form of a project; it is to ask you to slow down in your real life, to call on your emotions, on your senses and on your memories.”

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Putin signs new law to ban profanity in the arts

6 May 2014
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Russian punk band Leningrad. Some of the band’s lyrics almost exclusively feature profanities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning the use of profanity in the arts, with regular transgressors facing fines of up to 200,000 roubles ($5,600) or a three-month jail sentence. The law, which will come into effect on 1 July, will see a range of fines introduced for the "public performance of literary, artistic or folk art containing obscenities”, according to a document on the government’s official website. 

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This week: a round-up of Russian cultural news

2 May 2014
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Director Vladimir Bek, winner of the best film at Movement with Skinless (2014)

Russian director Vladimir Bek wins best film award at Siberia's Movement film festival; the proletariat conductorless orchestra Persimfans sees a contemporary revival in Moscow; and Russian happiness is at a 25-year high. A quick look at this week’s top cultural stories from Russia. 

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