On June 27, the Voznesensky Center will hold a poetry marathon in defense of a young artist from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Yulia Tsvetkova, who is accused of distributing pornography. Julia faces up to six years in prison for leading the VK-public "Monologues of the Vagina", where she published mostly schematic body-positive images of female bodies. The materials of the case itself, according to her lawyer, are closed. On February 11, the human rights organization "Memorial" recognized Yulia as a political prisoner. On April 16, Yulia received the Index on Censorship international award in the "Art" category, becoming the first Russian woman to be awarded it after Anna Politkovskaya.
In support of Yulia Tsvetkova, poets will read their own texts, and key figures in Russian culture, media, business and human rights will come up with reflections on the freedom of the artist. We asked four marathon participants about the perception of the female body and the support of Yulia Tsvetkova.
Aidan Salakhova, artist
- How did your attitude to your own body change, if changed?
- It's a difficult question. The attitude changed due to internal, own settings. Changed towards acceptance and it happened with age. That is, in youth you accept your body less than with age. Now the body is worse and the acceptance is better.
- Are there any issues in the perception of the female body that excite you as an artist and do not excite you as a woman, and vice versa?
- As an artist, I received a professional education. We have been drawing for six years - first at an art school, then at a university. In this training there is a study of the female and male body for many years. Therefore, artists are taught to see beauty in any body. The sitters were different: with different bodies, far from ideals. Therefore, we are able to see beauty in any figure, we understand how to draw beautifully - the body can be interesting in terms of the image in my perception. But, for example, writing the model 90-60-90, on the contrary, is very uninteresting, so I don't do it. The body should be expressive. For me there is no separation of bodies. The only thing, I will say about the male - again as an artist. We have always painted classical sculptures in an art school, men with perfect bodies - David, Apollo and so on.And when in reality the men were not with the same proportions as the sculptures, it was very offensive. Men with such bodies appeared in our country only after the emergence of gyms and the popularity of athletic physique. Only in this millennium did we have men with the correct bodies in Russia.
- What do you think, if Yulia Tsvetkova drew phalluses, was the situation in which she found herself possible?
- People are used to penises. They are painted on the fences. And this is kind of normal. And no one draws the vagina, so the people are not prepared. And researchers are not prepared for this folk art. But I think that Yulia Tsvetkova would not have drawn a penis.
- Does Yulia's case scare you as an artist?
- Yes, it scares me. Because if there is a precedent that a stylized painted vagina will be called pornography by the court, then it will be possible to jail somewhere more than half of the artists in our country. You know, recently I caught myself thinking that in the nineties or even in Brezhnev's time we had more free space than now. Here you offend these, then those: believers, then unbelievers. The world has gone mad: with full declared freedom, we have found ourselves in an absolute, total Middle Ages. And now I'm talking about the whole world. Of course, I don’t think, I paint freely and no one will forbid me to do it. But, unfortunately, despite the fact that thanks to the Internet we have access to free information, he played a cruel joke with us. It turned out that there are a huge number of crazy people who unite in public or groups, and they may somehow react differently.Previously, in order to get some information about art, one had to go to a library or a museum, one had to educate oneself, take a step towards understanding what was going on in this art. And when an image falls on an uneducated person, even if Malevich's "Black Square", he begins to sort of … (surprised. - "RBC Style"). Unfortunately, the majority is now ruled by a minority of opinion, so we are in an absolute and incomprehensible ambush. Society, unfortunately, goes through completely different stages of development, and people need to be spoken to in their language. It is obvious that the stage of development of society in Komsomolsk-on-Amur is much lower than in Moscow. If I post something on Instagram or Facebook, focusing on my Moscow or foreign friends, then this is one thing. And something completely differentwhat happened to Yulia in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. I think that if she lived in Moscow, then nothing like this would have happened.
If there is a precedent that a stylized painted vagina will be called pornography by a court, then it will be possible to put somewhere more than half of the artists in our country.
Linor Goralik, writer, marketer
- Did you feel condescension because you are a girl when you entered the Ben-Gurion University at the Faculty of Computer Science, or for Israel it was already a passed stage?
- I did not feel it at all: I had an amazing course, I was very lucky both with classmates and with teachers. But I do not think at all that this was a "passed stage" for Israel: in Israel, issues of gender discrimination are still acute in some areas - while in others things are much better than anywhere else. But personally, I was so lucky.
- Does it make a difference for you when you are called a writer or a writer?
- Now not at all, but once, it seems, was. But since then even feminitive-neologisms have entered the Russian language so clearly (and I admire and have always admired this process of the language's ability to respond to social changes) that the “established” feminitives have definitely ceased to mean for me personally something other than masculinitives. I am fine with both the writer and the author.
- And again the question about indulgence. When you work as a trainer and speaker, do customers have any questions or comments because you are a beautiful woman?
- Thank you very much for your kind words. No, I have never come across, thank God, so that my clients or listeners of my courses and seminars behave somehow especially because I am a woman - in general, I have always been extremely lucky with reasonable and sane clients.
- Did you do something specifically to form a reputation where your gender doesn't matter? Or will it come by itself if you do your job well?
- I have never thought of myself professionally as a person who has a certain gender. I always just wrote texts (or made objects and pictures, or worked as a marketer - with the exception of the rare, isolated examples related to poetry. It is difficult for me to judge how my work is perceived on the "receiving" side from a gender point of view and whether my gender role, but I am glad that they take me seriously and that they work with me seriously, that's all that interests me.
I have never thought of myself professionally as someone with a specific gender. I always just wrote lyrics.
- Do you have purely feminine rituals in projects where you take a place that was previously considered masculine?
- No, absolutely not. In terms of gender, I just feel like myself, and I feel completely comfortable. I am never worried about gender matching to “roles”; rather, I am always very afraid not to pull something out professionally (without any connection with the “female” or “male” place - I don’t divide “roles” like that at all). And that anxiety and the associated rituals consume everything else.
- Why are you participating in the Marathon in support of Yulia Tsvetkova?
- Because what is happening to Julia is monstrous and archaic and you need to protect her.
Tatiana Lazareva, TV presenter, humorist
- When you played in KVN, did you feel like a special member of the team? By the way, why, in your opinion, have mostly male teams played in KVN for many years?
- I played in the team of Novosibirsk State University in the 80s and 90s, and in those years it was the only team that later released a women's team from its depths. We then trampled on all the notions that a woman was created only for special tasks: either she walks around and presents everyone with her beauty, or she is a cook in a dressing gown. Of course, there was such an amazing feature in KVN: the girls did not open their mouths much and were the decoration of the team. But the example of our team showed that everything can be different. Indeed, there are far fewer women in humor than men. This is still partly true - look at the stand-up or the Comedy Club, although in the latter case the women were singled out in a separate program. We have already moved somewhere, and a woman in humor is not surprising. But in general, I think this state of affairs is also explained by the factthat girls are much more tender and more vulnerable. There was such a perception in society: men are courageous, women are feminine. And in KVN you need to be laughed at. For girls who are brought up in a society where you can't laugh at girls, it's hard. You need to be very strong and tough to endure when they laugh at you, and not admire.
- Was there a period, perhaps in your youth, when you wanted to look more masculine? Have you tried to prove that you are “your boyfriend”?
- I didn't prove it, I was my boyfriend. I talked with boys, I was such a boy type. Maturation of the female type occurred in late adolescence.
- Why did you agree to participate in the marathon? What do you think is especially important to say about this?
- I would not participate, to be honest, because my civic engagement has greatly decreased recently. It is such a learned helplessness when you realize that everything is unfair, wrong, strange, and so on. And this very "and so on" very strongly determines my attitude. What is happening to Julia is monstrous, wrong, awful, outrageous. And now it has gathered in such a familiar attitude to everything, when you expect from the repressive authorities (I don’t know what to call it … the judicial machine?) Injustice to any person showing his personal view, separate from those views that are promoted. And there is no protection for this person. I have been living with my active civic position for so long that I am already tired. But as a person who represents a generation that has heard the phrase on TV with its own ears:“There is no sex in the Soviet Union,” I see the Tsvetkova case and understand that we have not made very far. It seems that those people who uttered this phrase are still leading us. And we have no sex, and we have strictly one orientation. And in general, talking about this is embarrassing, inconvenient, and why?
This position surprises me the most. Young people now look at it in a completely different way, and the public agenda in the country has changed a lot. And for some reason they are trying to roll back this agenda and turn the conversation into some kind of taboo and forbidden.
But if we do not talk about it, if we do not enlighten people and call with words what actually is, then we will never be able to understand whether this is good or bad. This situation is perfectly illustrated by the old saying: "There is an ass, but no words." And in the Tsvetkova case, as, indeed, in many others, I am most outraged that I myself am not allowed to decide how I personally relate to this. I do not trust the people who opened the criminal case against Tsvetkova. Because I see that all these people are doing in relation to Konstantin Kotov, the cases of the Network, Novy Velikie, and this is only what we know. I am for enlightenment. I launched a YouTube channel Lazarevatut, but I'm not going to impose this agenda on everyone and say: "It's important for you to watch this!" Not. It's important for me. I want to understand the issues that bother me.I want to make my own decisions. I am an adult conscious person and I do not want those people to whom we did not trust this choice to make decisions for me, but they continue to do so.
But if we do not talk about it, if we do not enlighten people and call with words what actually is, then we will never be able to understand whether this is good or bad.
- In recent years, the voices of feminists have been louder in theater and media, do you share any fem values?
- Here I have to wildly apologize. The fact is that for a long time I tried to understand what feminism is and what fem values are. I realized that I do not feel any infringement in my direction. Maybe I was raised that way, but changing is difficult anyway. I do not like imposition. There are feminists and there are non-feminists. Feminists sound louder, but that also sometimes gets skewed. When they first propose to fight for the rights of women, not to infringe on them and to make them equal with men. And then they themselves say: “Oh, I don’t really want to chop wood and work in felling”. If I understand the fem agenda correctly, then it is. But I will say again that I am not very good at this and I simply divide women not by feminism, age, etc., but by rationality, responsibility and awareness. And everyone is entitled to their point of view. I, even if I am not a feminist. And all are feminists.And this is the biggest challenge to modern society. We are not used to living respecting everyone around us. We don't know how to respect ourselves either. Therefore, this is a new challenge that you need to get used to.
- How do you feel about feminitives?
- Feminitives are a reflection in the language of modern times. Our language is very mobile and cheerful, so I think that he will find something. A lot of things now appear that he must describe or borrow. But, for example, I am still very jarred to say instead of “member of parliament” - “member of the parliament”. Even the "editor" still jars me. But this suggests that these are just established things and it is difficult to change them. And at the same time, it does not mean that they do not need to be changed. The language is changing very quickly. And we still not so long ago shuddered from the construction of "what." For example, "the lecturer said what." Horror. But nevertheless it became a form of language. The tongue is very fast, it quickly takes the form of a vessel. So we'll get used to where we'll go if this really becomes the accepted norm. I used to say "under the umbrella", but correctly "under the umbrella",but nothing, retrained the same.
- How do you like to be called?
- I like to be called "dear Tanechka."
Olga Kroytor, artist
- How did your attitude to your own body change if it changed?
- It has changed quite strongly and is still changing. I don’t remember all the moments … But the practice of the performance greatly influenced this. To perform, you have to get rid of the ego and, first of all, from all stereotypes of body perception and generally treat it as a tool for transmitting information. If you don't accept it, you cannot show it. And along with the acceptance of the body comes the acceptance of oneself. There used to be one moment of acceptance, now another. Now age-related changes are coming, which we also have to accept. And this is quite curious: the body changes and the attitude towards it changes. In my case, this is generally the reverse process, I am more and more surprised and admired by him.
- Do you have any questions in the perception of the female body that excite you as an artist and do not excite you as a woman, and vice versa?
- Since I work with this, it is difficult to separate. I understand that people have their own perception, and I always try to understand someone else's point of view. It is important here that this was once my point of view. From the standpoint of an artist, for me, the body is the body - a beautiful, unique, special, and, of course, a wonderful instrument. And from the viewer's point of view, there is often condemnation associated with the cliché, as it should be. And I can perfectly remember the moments of my life when I seriously thought about adding or subtracting something to it. Now I understand that beauty is in individuality. The body becomes a reflection of life.
Along with accepting the body comes self-acceptance.
- In your opinion, why exactly the female body became a stumbling block and objects of controversy?
- I think this is a question of education. It surprises me. Indeed, if you look at the female body, there is nothing to argue about. The question is how someone perceives. When I found myself in a bathhouse in Berlin, where everyone goes naked, it became clear to me that the female body is truly unique and beautiful. It turned out to be more beautiful than a man's: smooth, soft, as if filled with life. It seems to me that the main problem is in education and censoring. I think, in a different way, women could treat men in the same way. But we live in a patriarchal society and therefore we have what we have. Remember these stupid sayings that "a woman should be a tigress in bed and a hostess in the kitchen." These are all sprouts of the same root: no one wants to see that a woman is a living person. And this is awful. And, of course, a consumer society,which dictates to us how to look. And for some reason, there are so many requirements for a woman. In those conditions where a woman is also involved in social, professional and other activities, this seems inappropriate.
- What do you think, if Yulia Tsvetkova drew phalluses, was the situation in which she found herself possible?
- I think no. In general, there would be no questions. I have seen enough modern art works with all male households, in very different designs … and no one had any questions. Maybe the text itself adds some poignancy, in which, in my opinion, there is nothing terrible … No, it seems to me that no one wants to see that a woman is a living creature, which may not be ideal within the generally accepted framework. The problem is in this very framework that everyone has.
- Does Yulia's case scare you as an artist?
- Of course, it scares, but it started much earlier. When I came up with my early work, I didn't think about self-censorship and nothing stopped me. And now this feeling runs ahead of me. I don't want to think about it, but there is something running ahead of me that makes me think about public opinion. And I think this is not on my own. I would like people to start treating their own bodies easier. Hence our dissatisfaction with others. We demand too much from ourselves (external) and therefore try to demand from others. A strange shift in emphasis, because it's 2020 on the street. And from humanity, I expected an emphasis towards knowledge, and not towards claims to their own body. People talk about cars and stuff, but they are not ready to talk about the body that is with them 24 hours a day. The body is a wonderful tool for our life,which should be monitored and looked after, and why shouldn't it also be discussed? I don't understand how everything that happens to him can be taboo. It shouldn't be. People should love other people in all their manifestations, and maybe then they will be able to accept themselves as they are.>