The brainchild of Russian performance artist, Artyom Loskutov, this surreal form of protest comes to life every year on May 1. Founded in 2006, in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, “Monstrations” are a means by which activists subvert prosecution from the state. The videos above and below depict Monstrations through the years.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia has long been infamous for suppressing dissent, and many protestors have been detained for raising anti-Putin or anti-government slogans. Not only do the Monstrations seek to defy these detentions, but they are also a mockery of public discourse and dissent in Russia, which participants believe is missing.
“We came up with the idea of monstrations, when we were exploring the middle grounds between art and political expressions,” said the founder, Loskutov. “The monstration was the second performance my art group organised – we had only met a month and a half earlier. We saw it as two things: firstly, a criticism of public politics (in the shape of protests), or rather the absence of such politics in Russia. Secondly, we wanted to give people a space for personal expression, which isn’t possible in regular demonstrations.”
The absurdist Monstration marches began in Novosibirsk, far from the capital city of Moscow, but made its way to Moscow in 2018. The idea has even inspired other absurd protests, like the Zombie march, which was broken up by the police
The protests feature slogans and costumes that make no sense, and don’t appear to match any coherent ideology in the demonstrations. Here are samples of what some of the posters at Monstrations have said:
“Feed your cat and sleep well.”
“I’m not here for that.”
“I am for same-sex scrimmage.”
“This is the sun.”
“Say no to anti-semiotics.”
“Revolutions happen in a dream.”
Read all the articles in the Art of Resistance series here.