MOSCOW, November 15 (RIA Novosti) – Police have opened a criminal case against a Russian performance artist who awed and horrified people around the world last week when he nailed his scrotum to the cobblestones in Moscow’s Red Square.
Pyotr Pavlensky is being investigated for hooliganism, Moscow’s Interior Ministry said Friday, and is currently under orders not to leave the area.
Police are investigating the St. Petersburg-based artist under the article in Russia's Criminal Code that penalizes disorderly conduct on the grounds of political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hatred or hostility toward a particular social group, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Pavlensky spent a reported 90 minutes on November 10 sitting naked on the ground near Lenin’s mausoleum, gazing steadily down at his crucified genitals in a performance he titled “Nail.”
This is the police’s second attempt to press charges against the artist over the stunt. After detaining and briefly hospitalizing him Sunday, police asked a Moscow judge the next day to charge him with petty hooliganism. The judge ruled that the police documents didn’t show Pavlensky had committed a crime.
Pavlensky was largely lauded by the international artistic community for his performance, which he said was a protest against apathy and political indifference in Russian society. Eminent Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov called the scrotum-nailing “a powerful gesture of absolute despair.”
In the past, Pavlensky has repeatedly used self-mutilation as an artistic medium for politically-themed expression. Last year, he sewed his mouth shut to express solidarity with jailed members of the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot, and in May he wrapped his naked body in barbed wire outside the parliament building in St. Petersburg to protest what he called Russia’s repressive regime.