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Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot [Anglais] [Broché]

Masha Gessen
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“It is worth noting,” Nadya said, lecturing at a conference, “that punk feminist art is being produced in Russia today. Here is an example,” she continued, improvising. “The Pisya Riot collective works in a great variety of genres, including both visual and musical compositions.”

Pisya is a kid’s word for genitals of either sex; it is most like “wee-wee” or “pee-pee.”

Being a fictional group, Pisya Riot could not write its own music. Neither of the real-life members of the phantom group could; Nadya had taken music lessons as a child and had not done well, and Kat had no musical background. So they borrowed a track from the British punk group Cockney Rejects and used a handheld Dictaphone to record their lyrics over the sampling:

You are sick and tired of stinky socks,

Your daddy’s stinky socks.

Your entire life will be stinky socks.

Your mother is all in dirty dishes,

Stinky food remains in dirty dishes.

Using refried chicken to wash the floor,

Your mother lives in a prison.

In prison she’s washing pots like a sucker.

No freedom to be had in prison.

Life from hell where man is the master.

Come out in the street and free the women!

Suck on your own stinky socks,

Don’t forget to scratch your ass while you’re at it,

Burp, spit, drink, shit,

While we happily become lesbians!

Envy your own stupid penis

Or your drinking buddy’s huge dick,

Or the guy on TV’s huge dick,

While shit piles up and rises to the ceiling.

Become a feminist, become a feminist

Peace to the world and death to the men.

Become a feminist, kill the sexist!

Kill the sexist and wash off his blood.

Become a feminist, kill the sexist!

Kill the sexist and wash off his blood.

 

They found they liked being Pisya Riot. Maybe they even really wanted to be Pisya Riot. To become a punk rock group, though, they would need musicians. They thought of N, a woman Nadya’s age who had come to Voina, an art group to which Nadya and her husband, Petya, had belonged. Nadya sought her out. N found Nadya changed: “In Voina, she had been this chubby-cheeked child, and now her cheeks had thinned and her voice took on a certainty. She had chosen her issues, and she may even have chosen them at random, but now she was serious and her topics were LGBT and feminism. And the choice had changed her: she no longer saw herself as an appendage to Petya and [fellow Voina member] Vorotnikov, even if she had once been a willing appendage. It had still limited her. When you are with someone, you are not flying through the cosmos, because your soul always has its home in another person—you may need it sometimes, but it is limiting and it keeps you from taking flight. Nadya got this at some point and took flight.” Pisya Riot, on the other hand, seemed to N almost pure silliness, but she envied whatever it was Nadya felt. She took on the music.

They would need other participants too, but that did not seem like a big issue; what they had in mind could be done by three or five or seven or eleven people, and there were friends and students to be recruited. They also needed a stage. At first, playgrounds, with their platforms and slides, looked pretty good. They had recorded “Kill the Sexist” at a playground. It was raining. It was also night time, which meant there were no children at the playground, but there were beer-drinking and cigarette-smoking young people, who grew concerned when they heard young women screaming their heads off about stinky socks.

They said, “What happened? Did someone hurt you? Do you need help? ”

Nadya and Kat had said, “Don’t worry, we are just making a record.” But now that they were planning on making videos, they needed a different stage, something more spectacular. One day, as they got off the Metro, they spotted it: some stations had towers made of scaffolding, with platforms at the very top, for changing light bulbs or painting ceilings, or performing punk rock, perhaps. Moscow Metro stations are, for the most part, grand architectural affairs, all marble and granite and ostentatiously spanning arches and dramatic lighting; they look like classical concert halls, and the crude scaffolding towers, viewed from the right angle, look very much like a punk affront of a stage.

They performed a number of reconnaissance missions and identified several stations where the towers were particularly tall and well placed, which is to say, placed close to the center of the hall. Then they began rehearsing. If they were going to be a feminist punk rock group, they were going to have to have instruments—Kat picked up a bass—and they were going to have to climb up the tower and unpack their instruments and mics and amplifier and take up positions fast, faster than the Metro police knew what was happening.

They practiced at playgrounds.

As they rehearsed, it became clear they needed staging and visuals and costumes. “Because if we just got up there and started screaming, everyone would think we were stupid,” Kat explained to me. “Stupid chicks just standing there screaming.”

First they came up with wearing balaclavas, which would make them anonymous—but not like Russian special forces, who kept their identities hidden behind black knit face masks with slits for the eyes and mouth, but like the opposite of that: their balaclavas would be neon-colored. Then they would need dresses and multicolored stockings, to show that the whole getup was intentional. Bright, exaggerated makeup showed surprisingly well through the slits in the balaclavas. And the pillow—the pillow appeared because parliament members had begun talking about banning abortion and Putin kept talking about Russia’s so-called demographic problem, by which he meant that Russian women were not getting pregnant often enough, and so Nadya stuck a pillow under her green dress. And then she tried taking it out during the screaming, or the singing, and ripping it open. The feathers created a sort of snow effect, in addition to the birth effect and the abortion effect. That worked.

They spent a month filming their first clip. There was one time they climbed atop a Moscow electric bus and performed—it turned out the feather-letting worked outdoors as well—but mostly they filmed at Metro stations, as many as fifteen of them in all. A couple of times, they got detained. Once, Tasya, who was filming, got beaten up by police. This was before many Russians came to think of being beaten up by police as a regular part of their existence. There was the time when the police tried to beat up Petya, and Nadya wedged herself between him and them and literally shielded him with her body, and there was probably no one, not even Nadya, who appreciated the beauty of her doing this after screaming about stinky socks and penis envy.

And there was the time when the police called Kat’s father, Stanislav Samutsevich. “They would not let me see them,” he recalled. “They were in a holding pen. I had a conversation with two interesting young men. They talked to me about contemporary art and activism. I asked them who they were, and they said, ‘We are art critics in civilian clothing.’ “ It was an unfunny joke that Stanislav Samutsevich did not get: “art critic in civilian clothing” was a term used to denote KGB agents whose job it was to inform on dissidents in the Soviet Union; just like their predecessors in the 1970s, Pisya Riot had developed a following among these “art critics” before the broader public ever heard of them. That is, the secret police had literally started following them around—there were more of them with each consecutive taping.

Stanislav Samutsevich would not have known, or wanted to know, anything about dissidents in the Soviet Union, or about those whose job it had been to spy on them or jail them. “So I shared with them my views on contemporary art.” What were they? “Well, I am an old man.” The ones in civilian clothing were more knowledgeable about contemporary art. “The girls had really wreaked havoc there and the police didn’t know what to do with them. Then a big police vehicle came for them and Yekaterina told me to go home. She came home later, on the last train. I had a talk with her after that, but I am a dinosaur and I don’t understand anything about anything, so that was the last time she ever told me anything.” From that point on, Stanislav Samutsevich learned about performances from the media—or from police. He did try to protect the girls from themselves. “One time they were in the hallway, painting posters of some sort, and I came out and said to them, ‘Look, you’ve already been to the police station once, and no one knows how things could end.’ Nadya stopped coming over to the house after that.”

After that particular detention, the media got wind of the tower climbing and the screaming and the feathers flying in the Metro. They assumed Voina was back in action. Petya and Nadya were invited to the studios of the lone independent cable television channel. They denied it had been a Voina action. They said they had been detained while attending a performance of a new, different art group. They said it was called Pussy Riot.


--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

Praise for WORDS WILL BREAK CEMENT: THE PASSION OF PUSSY RIOT

“Urgent  … damning … Much here will be new to the American reader. All of it is infuriating.” –Alexander Nazaryan, The New York Times 

“Remarkable…Masha Gessen [is] one of the most important activists and journalists Russia has known in a generation… disquieting, moving, and closely reported.” –David Remnick, The New Yorker

“The fullest account so far of the Pussy Riot story… A moving object lesson in the power of art — perhaps especially messy and exuberant art — to rise above repression and have the last, cement-breaking word.” –Sara Marcus, Los Angeles Times

"Valuable for its insights into the modern cultural history of Russia, with all its idealistic muddles, dead-ends and false starts … ideal for those curious about the country behind the Games.”  –The Economist

“What makes someone into a dissident? Why do some people give up everything — home, family, job — to embark on a career of protest? … Gessen set out to answer this question … in this excellent short account.” –The Washington Post

“A compulsively readable book that explains in unflinching terms the tragedy that is modern Russia…Words Will Break Cement is an instant classic, destined to take its place with Solzhenitsyn’s writings about the Gulag... one comes away…marveling at the courage of the Pussy Riot members making a stand against tyranny while demonstrating the willingness to pay a steep price” –New York Journal of Books

“Riveting… [Gessen] is a sharp observer of people and events, and she tells Pussy Riot’s story in a lively style that is somehow casual, precise, and powerful all at once. She has written a terrific book, a compelling story of three creative women who courageously attacked a repressive regime by disrupting the spectacle of its propaganda.” –The Rumpus

"The significance of Words Will Break Cement...is its demonstration that Pussy Riot's rambunctious confrontations with the authorities are the result of several years of growing frustration with Putin's rule...The genius of Pussy Riot...has been to employ guerilla street theater and a sense of humor along with unbridled profanity–all the better to skewer the pretensions of power and privilege Putin insists are his due...Words Will Break Cement makes clear that Pussy Riot is more than just a small group of disorderly anarchists." –New York Times Book Review

“Masha Gessen’s history of founding Pussy Riot members Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich provides some crucial context for understanding the motives and means of the group…Gessen’s account helpfully highlights the lineage of art and protest that gave rise to Pussy Riot.. Pussy Riot is what art endangered looks like; their songs are salvos; their hits are strikes.”Boston Globe

“[A] fascinating insider account … As Russia waves sabers at the Ukraine and considers a new cultural policy that explicitly rejects multiculturalism and tolerance, the young women of Pussy Riot increasingly seem not like radicals but prophets. … Vivid and empathic.” Seattle Times

“A compelling and eloquent account of current events.”The Christian Science Monitor

“Gessen offers a lively and sympathetic portrait of the three women at the center of the storm… keenly observed and often moving.” – The Guardian

“[An] angry, clear and intimate look at the women behind Pussy Riot.” – The Sunday Times

"Compelling and highly readable. It’s an artist biography, a meditation on revolutionary art and gender politics, an absurdist courtroom drama and defiant commentary on the cultural climate of Gessen’s homeland — a place for which the author obviously has enduring love and concern.” –Eugene Weekly

“Pussy Riot is a global cause célèbre, and now Gessen—prickly, frank, precise, and sharply witty—provides the first in-depth look at this story-in-progress”–Booklist (starred review)

"Based on interviews with Pussy Riot members (including those arrested and others in the group), their families, friends, and attorneys, Gessen puts their protest and arrests in the context of post-Soviet, Putin-era Russia’s culture and society… Recommended to readers in feminist studies, those following ­Putin’s Russia, and all who study protest art.” –Library Journal

Praise for THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE: THE UNLIKELY RISE OF VLADIMIR PUTIN

“Gessen has shown remarkable courage… [An] unflinching indictment of the most powerful man in Russia.” –The Wall Street Journal
 
“[Gessen] shines a piercing light into every dark corner of Putin’s story… Fascinating, hard-hitting reading.” –Foreign Affairs

“Illuminating… It is with [the] explosive revelations that Gessen truly excels… An electrifying read from what can only be described as an incredibly brave writer.” –Columbia Journalism Review

“Part psychological profile, part conspiracy study. As a Moscow native who has written perceptively for both Russian and Western publications, Gessen knows the cultures and pathologies of Russia… [and has] a delicious command of the English language… A fiercely independent journalist… Gessen’s armchair psychoanalysis of Putin is speculative. But it is a clever and sometimes convincing speculation, based on a close reading of Putin’s own inadvertently revealing accounts of his life, and on interviews with people who knew Putin before he mattered.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Absorbing.” –The New Yorker

“Powerful and gracefully written.” –The San Francisco Chronicle
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 320 pages
  • Editeur : Granta Books (6 février 2014)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1847089348
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847089342
  • Dimensions du produit: 12,9 x 19,8 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 121.590 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 You thought it had changed? Read this ... 22 mai 2014
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Very interesting and readable account of the history and events linked with the founding and activities of, then the State reactions to Pussy Riot. The characters come alive, their history is facinating, the story seems well researched and believable - most of all: if you want to understand Russia today, an absolute "must read"!
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  27 commentaires
25 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. 19 janvier 2014
Par Lára Heimisdóttir - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
"If they wanted to show something radical, feminist, independent, street-based, and Russian, they would have to make it up."

Since I first read about Pussy Riot in Western media I've been hooked. Their actions were both understandable but somehow foreign in the eyes of someone who has never been deprived of basic human rights. Once I opened the book I could not put it down.
Gessen is the perfect interpreter of Russian culture, in her graceful writing style she combines the story of Pussy Riot with Russian history, literature, culture and language. She explains the context of their actions and puts their staged trial into perspective for the Western reader.

The three members of Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina, which were prosecuted for the minute-long punk prayer are the focus of the book. I felt as I got to know the women behind the masks, but more importantly, I got a better understanding of why they felt obligated to protest in the way they did. We follow the three women from their first performance to a Russian penal colony. Their journey is described by Gessen with the help of the women's speeches in court, interviews with their families, letters they sent from prison and interviews with themselves.

If you have ever been curious about the actions of Pussy Riot, showed an interested in Russian history and culture, if you are in favor of human rights and if you call yourself a feminist: this book is for you.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you expect. 4 février 2014
Par Wade Sikorski - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I loved this book! I gained a great deal of respect for the women of Pussy Riot, their creativity, their humor, and especially their courage. Gessen does a wonderful job of describing their different personalities, including not only their virtues, but also their faults and failings, as well as the various quirks of mind that makes each of them unique individuals. By the end of the book you will love each of them like a friend, and you will be horrified at what they went through trying to make the world a better place.

Gessen raises an interesting question in the book. What is it that makes a political action work? What is it that grabs people's attention? Pussy Riot had launched a number of actions, almost all of them, they felt, better executed than the "Punk Rock Prayer" to the Virgin Mary in the cathedral that made them so famous. They went into hiding afterwards, but as they did they wondered if it was even necessary. In all likelihood, they suspected, no one was going to pay them any attention. The action felt like a dud. But sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you expect. Soon Putin himself would be on trial in the world press, trying to explain that he wasn't really the overbearing dictatorial jerk that about everyone concluded he was for what he did to Pussy Riot. If you are interested in political activism, this book will help you figure out what works and what doesn't.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The best background work on the origin and roots of Pussy Riot 31 janvier 2014
Par Beck - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Overall, a fine work that characterizes the underpinning of Pussy Riot. Really, it also helps define the terms for us in the West the nature of today's Russia under Putin.
7 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Outspoken Author Writing about Courageous Women 21 février 2014
Par Leslie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This is an incredibly important book in revealing the lack of justice in the Russian court system that is so foreign to an American reader. Indeed the court system exists as an arm of the government attached to the leader. It seemed that Masha Gessen, a wonderful Russian author, journalist, and activist was pressed by time to get the story out as fast as possible, and there's no doubt she overcame many obstacles to write it. The author did the impossible - or at least the very difficult- she corresponded with the women of Pussy Riot despite the censorship, gained the trust of their families to interview them, visited the women at the prisons, and attended court hearings and gained access to the records. While the story doesn't have the usual flow of Gessen's writing, the story is gripping and timely. It also explains the logic of Pussy Riot's actions, especially protesting the close ties between the government and the Orthodox Church.
3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A must-read for Russian current events 13 mars 2014
Par Karen Gold - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
A fascinating look behind the scenes. Gives a great background on the members of Pussy Riot and how they started their protests. Also shows how repressive the Russian government is under Putin. The scenes from the trial are reminiscent of the Soviet show trials.
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