Bikini Kill's Tobi Vail Pays Tribute to Pussy Riot

A exclusive excerpt from 'Pussy Riot!: A Punk Prayer for Freedom'

Pussy Riot's Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova / Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/GettyImages
Pussy Riot's Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova / Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/GettyImages
David Marchese WRITTEN BY
David Marchese

Pussy Riot!: A Punk Prayer for Freedom is crucial reading material for anyone interested in the plight of the Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot. The group drew the attention of human rights advocates around the world last year when bandmembers were arrested and charged with felony hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for protesting against President Putin inside a Moscow cathedral. The book is a collection of prison letters, courtroom statements, poems, song lyrics, and encouragement from the likes of Yoko Ono and JD Samson, and it's as fiery and impassioned as its subject. 

In this exclusive excerpt, Bikini Kill's Tobi Vail pays tribute:

Punk as Protest: Join the Party

Pussy Riot's punk is pure protest. They don't need a publicist or a record label or a booking agent. Nothing is for sale.

Pussy Riot is a non-commercial venture. They play unsanctioned shows exclusively — they don't play rock clubs, they don't tour. They exist outside of commodity exchange. They are not a part of the entertainment-industrial complex. They are on a heroic mission to speak truth to power.

Pussy Riot doesn't need the radio. Their music is the soundtrack of radical feminist action. Video footage shows them seizing control of territory that doesn't belong to them — the roof of a detention center, the subway, a fashion boutique, Red Square, the biggest cathedral in Moscow — obliterating the line between private property and public space. Upon taking over, they perform their songs on the world stage.

Before Pussy Riot members were jailed, they were confident that the struggle would continue: "We have nothing to worry about, because if the repressive Putinist police crooks throw one of us in prison, five, ten, fifteen more girls will put on colorful balaclavas and continue the fight against their symbols of power."

Pussy Riot started in Moscow but chapters are forming all over the world in response to group members' unjust imprisonment and continued state harassment. In the age of the archive, Pussy Riot propels punk into the twenty-first century, presenting a new model for the creation of a culture of protest outside of capitalism.

Put on a balaclava, pick up a guitar, and hit the streets. Take over a government building, a defense plant, a shopping mall, and make your voice heard. Document your action to participate in the conversation and show your solidarity with Nadezhda, Yekaterina, and Maria. We are all Pussy Riot.

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