by merzedessturmlie

Voina (Russian: Война = War) is a Russian street-art group known for their provocative and politically charged works of performance art. Conceptions are worked out by Oleg Vorotnikov (a.k.a. “Vor” – the chief ideologist), Natalia Sokol (a.k.a. “Kozlyenok” – the chief coordinator), Leonid Nikolayev (a.k.a. Crazy Lenya) and Alex Plutser-Sarno (the chief media artist, the author of the group’s media art and texts). The group is not supported by any Russian curators or gallerists. The group doesn’t cooperate with any state or private institutions. More than a dozen criminal cases have been brought against the group. Voina was founded in 2006 by Oleg Vorotnikov and Natalia Sokol,[1] In late February 2011 the activists Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev were released on bail after four months in Moscow police custody, in connection with an anti-corruption protest. They face up to seven years of prison.[2][3] In response to the detention, graffiti artistBanksy helped to raise money for the artists.[3] They have also been denounced by right-wing groups like the People’s Synod.

Voina came to widespread public attention with their 2008 work Fuck for the heir Medved`s little Bear!, staged the day before the election of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Five couples, including one pregnant woman four days from giving birth, had public sex in Moscow’s Timirayzev State Museum of Biology.[1][4]

The Voina action In Memory of the Decemberists – A Present to Yuri Luzhkov, staged a hanging of two homosexual men and three Central Asian guest workers, references to political stances of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov which have been denounced as racist and homophobic.

[1] A Cop in a Priest’s Robe featured Oleg Vorotnikov wearing the robe of a Russian Orthodox priest and the hat of a police officer leaving a grocery store without paying for a full cart of groceries, a demonstration of the “invulnerability” of these groups.[1][5]

Other Voina actions include a wake for absurdist poet Dmitry Prigov, featuring a table with food and vodka, in a Moscow Metro car and celebrating International Workers’ Day by throwing live cats through the counters in a McDonald’s restaurant “to break up the drudgery of workers’ routine day”.[4]

In the night of June 14, 2010, Voina painted a giant 65 m long phallus on the Liteyny drawbridge leading to the Bolshoy Dom, headquarters of the Federal Security Service in Saint Petersburg.[6] On April 2011, the Russian Ministry of Culture awarded Voina’s group in the section “Innovation 2011” of the ministry awards for modern visual arts.

On 15 November 2010, Leonid Nikolayev and Oleg Vorotnikov were arrested for overturning an empty police car as an art performance act. The official charges were violations of Article 213, Paragraph 1, Item B of the Criminal Code – hooliganism motivated by hatred or hostility towards a social group.[8] No bail was allowed, and the trial was set for 28 Feb. 2011.

Nikolayev, Vorotnikov, and a third Voina member, Natalya Sokol, allege to have been attacked by plainclothes members of the anti-extremism police in St. Petersberg. The beating followed a press conference where Voina discussed the conditions of their detention.[9]