This article discusses the performance events “Do Not Believe Your Eyes” (2000) and “Ally/Foe” (2010) by Russian artist Oleg Mavromatti in the framework of a single durational event that critiques the sacralization of public space in Russia. The public reception of the performances is mediated by attitudes toward Russian Criminal Law Article 282, the so-called law against religious offenses, in a sociopolitical climate where Orthodoxy is conflated with state patriotism. Through the appropriation of the colloquially resonant behavioral paradigm of the holy fool, the author analyzes how Mavromatti’s performance event critiques the concept of “judgment” (by an Orthodox state and by an Orthodox public) from within a culturally resonant religious tradition. The artist’s intervention calls for a secular separation of church and state, but by doing so from within a religious tradition, it illuminates the function of the postsecular as a mode of engagement in contemporary Russian culture.
A Sinner or a Criminal? The Judgment of Oleg Mavromatti under Article 282
Darja Filippova is pursuing a PhD in comparative literature at Princeton University, where she works on performance art in postsocialist contexts. She holds a BA from Smith College and MA degrees from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Central European University, Budapest. Originally from Estonia, she was the founding editor of Gallery Guide, a bilingual art magazine in Beijing, and her writing has appeared in Leap, Art Margins, ArtSlant, Randian, and Utah Foreign Language Review. She is a practicing artist.
Darja Filippova; A Sinner or a Criminal? The Judgment of Oleg Mavromatti under Article 282. Poetics Today 1 September 2020; 41 (3): 437–460. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-8519670
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