Nadya Tolokonnikova – Virgin Mary, Please Become a Feminist
Dimensions: 28 x 28″ paper / 22 x 22″ paper
Medium: screenprint on paper
“Virgin Mary, Please Become A Feminist” features Pussy Riot’s hand-drawn artwork across a digitized copy of their actual prison sentencing documents from 2012. Nadya drew childlike drawings onto her court papers in order to alleviate a modicum of the depression she faced in jail. She placed an image of the Virgin Mary within a vulva-like shape, a form historically associated with the Virgin Mary’s life giving force as a woman.
This image drew the ire of the Russian Orthodox Church, as Tolikonnikova puts it, “for offending their religious feelings,” and it resulted in Russia placing her on its most wanted criminal list. Tolokonnikova turned this aggression back against Russian tyranny, boldly calling out Vladimir Putin in a Ted Talk she gave just weeks later: “from one wanted criminal to another…you will not win.”
Nadya Tolokonnikova, Pussy Riot: “I’ve decided to work with papers from my prison sentence and to overcome the negative experience, I decided to subvert it with colorful, childish, happy pictures. I wanted to transform my traumatic experience into something positive as much as possible.”