Anonymous Poster Artists Talk about Their Fatherland Defenders Day Protest in the Subway
February 24, 2015
Yesterday, February 23, anti-war posters appeared in ad slots in subway cars. Anonymous activists hung three series of posters: quotations by famous authors about war; pastiches of children’s drawings; and avant-garde posters.
Organizers told Paper why they did it, how patriotism can be a bad thing, and where to look for the fruits of this anonymous partisan protest.
The first series of posters featured anti-war quotations by Erich Maria Remarque, Jaroslav Hašek, and Ernest Hemingway. The unknown artists pasted them over municipal government posters.
The second series of work, pastiches of children’s drawings, deal with the impact of war propaganda on children. The artists have tried to convey children’s vision of war.
(left panel) “My brother was killed in the army during peacetime. When I grow up is that also where I’ll end up?” (right panel) “My dad is very strong. He killed enemies, and now he beats me and Mom. Katya, 8 years old.”
“They told me I have to grow up to be a real man. When I grow up I’ll go to war, and I’ll rape and kill! Artyom, 7 years old.”
“My dad is a hero, but he doesn’t have arms anymore. God, let him grow new arms!!!”
“My dad came back from the war without legs. Now he says he’d be better off dead.”
In the third series of works, the anonymous artists decided to shift the focus from the celebration of Fatherland Defenders Day by recalling what else we commemorate on February 23rd: for example, the birthday of the Russian and Soviet avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich.
“K. Malevich was born on February 23. Happy otherness day!”
According to the protesters, who claimed responsibility for all three series, the posters were posted near the subways stations Lesnaya, Ploshchad Muzhestva, and Vyborgskaya. A total of twenty-six works were produced and put up.
Anonymous artist, organizer of the anti-war protest in the Petersburg subway: “Our government has greatly increased spending on militarization, which leads to the allocation of ever smaller sums for the social needs of Russian citizens. Hospitals and schools are being closed, and the educational sector as a whole is suffering. The idea of doing one series of posters as pastiches of children’s drawings was borne out of this. Poverty and unemployment are growing, while aggressive, conservative patriotism is becoming more and more noticeable with every passing day. Incidents of xenophobia and sexism have become more frequent, women are not allowed to control their own bodies, and attempts are being made to ban abortions. The government has apparently forgotten about its own citizens as it thinks only about war and external enemies.
An anti-war quotation by Hemingway pasted over a municipal government ad that reads, “On the 70th anniversary of the Victory during Literature Year. […] Together we are reading [sic] Petersburg!”
Additional images courtesy of Left News