Page 1 – Hit one, hit all
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His staging had just premiered in Zurich he is under
house arrest, He may not use the Internet, write e-mails and may only with a few
selected persons, but in no case with journalists. Like in a prison
Kirill Serebrennikov is stuck, in an apartment in Moscow, 33 square meters, after all,
occasionally he is allowed to walk through the neighborhood. It has been over a year now that
they locked him up. His mother died during this time. His father is crying
hoarsely, as Russian journalists visit him, and hopes that he may enjoy the day
his 49-year-old son is released. He faces up to ten years imprisonment.
Recently, the most spectacular artistic process that has ever taken place in post-Soviet Russia began. Kirill Serebrennikov and three co-defendants are accused of harder, jointly organized fraud. Between 2011 and 2014, they are said to have stolen some 1.8 million euros, according to the indictment. State money went into the private pockets of artists, claim the prosecutors. On a cold autumn day, on the fourth floor of the Meschanski court, room 233, the four creative artists sit in front of the judge: Yuri Itin, Alexei Malobrodski, Sofia Apfelbaum and Kirill Serebrennikov in hoody. The process will last for many months.
The allegations seem somewhat endeavored: first it was said, a staging of Shakespeare's
Midsummer Night's Dream
was never produced. There was evidence of it; by the way, well attended. Similar nonsensical sounds the assumption that Serebrennikow had paid with the allegedly misappropriated money his apartment in Berlin. He bought them before he received the state subsidy. The investigators continued to search – and who searches, who finds. Serebrennikov's production company paid services in cash. The cash she got through bogus companies that settle purchases, but in fact pay back the money to the theater. Although this is not clean, but in many theaters usual, otherwise every errand, every purchase requisition would precede a call for tenders or costing. Even Vladimir Putin criticized the corresponding law. The theaters went crazy. Until now. Kirill Serebrennikov apparently crossed a border. Only nobody knows which.
Serebrennikov is gay, as an artist he broke conventions with naked bodies and religious criticism. And he became famous, was celebrated, not only in Russia, but also internationally. He had his
his protective roof in the power apparatus. When Serebrennikov founded his theater platform in 2011, an experimental stage that brought together dance, film, music, acting and allegedly embezzled his money, he had Dmitri Medvedev's support, which at that time was still Russian president. Serebrennikov got a lot of money from the state, his production company Seventh Studio implemented the projects. In 2012, he took over the dusty Gogol Theater and made it one of the most important artistic meeting places of the urban middle class in Russia. In 2014, the theater platform was dissolved, but its seventh studio existed as part of the Gogol Theater, henceforth called the center.
Kirill Serebrennikov, says Russian film director Witali Manski, is the perfect victim because he unites film, theater and contemporary art in his productions: "One hits and hits three times." Therefore, this criminal case against the director brings up as many artists in Russia as none before: it hits one from their midst. Serebrennikov and three co-defendants are in court, but they all mean it.
The director of culture Witali Manski personally brushed aside the funding for his documentary film festival because of his "anti-state rhetoric". His production company has relocated Manski to Riga. His colleague Andrei Svyaginzev, nominated for an Oscar, also refrained from state funding after the Culture Minister accused him of "nest pollution". The dramaturge Marina Dawydowa was funding for her newspaper
after having published a focus on Ukrainian theater at the beginning of the Ukrainian-Russian war, the title page was dipped in the blue and yellow national colors of Ukraine. In the past, Davydova says, the rulers in Moscow have also honored artists willing to change. That's over. How to live, how to breathe, how to work?
Something is closing in Russia. Borders shift. When did it start?
Andrei Erofeyev sits on the fourth floor of his old apartment, which is not far from Bolotnaya Square, where in 2012 Vladimir Putin dispersed the protests of the middle class against his framed reelection. Jerofejew looks out the window at the House of the People's Council, where a group of religious fanatics is based. The activists wanted to see Jerofejew in jail for curating an exhibition titled "Forbidden Art": Jesus was seen as a promotional figure for McDonald's, policemen snogging in a birch forest – all peek-eyed. Some of the exhibits were banned in the Soviet Union, another was later rejected in Russian museums and galleries. But the virtue warriors of the Volkskonzils indicated him and his partner.
Many were shocked at the time. But Andrei Erofejew remembered this encounter which took place in the middle of the nineties. At that time, a free society emerged from the rubble of socialism, and the artists were eager to help. "One had the same goal in mind: to create a new image of Russia." They were suddenly no longer in opposition, but worked hand in hand with the state. For Jerofejew, this is exemplified by a number of artists, including Kirill Serebrennikow. All of them had influential acquaintances, the governor from Perm, for example, or Putin's later advisor, Vladislav Surkov, who was trying to be a writer. Looking back, however, says Jerofejew, the margins were smaller than many thought. "Even then, there was the idea of not letting Russian art interact with world art," says Jerofejew. "That was the first sign of isolation, but no one realized it – it was hard to imagine that the country would develop into this insanity, and I did not understand then that it was censorship."