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Title: „Sud nad iskusstvom“ oder Wie im Gerichtsprozess gegen die Ausstellung Verbotene Kunst 2006 aus einem juristischen Prozess ein moralischer wurde
Authors: Frimmel, Sandra
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Sandra Frimmel, "„Sud nad iskusstvom“ oder Wie im Gerichtsprozess gegen die Ausstellung Verbotene Kunst 2006 aus einem juristischen Prozess ein moralischer wurde", in: Slavica Tergestina, 13 (2011), pp. 8-40
Series/Report no.: Slavica Tergestina
13 (2011)
In my text “‘Sud nad iskusstvom’ or How the court case against the exhibition
Forbidden Art 2006 turned from a legal action into a moral one”
I am analyzing certain strategies of the prosecution counsel, which
made this legal action appear as a theater play. The curator of the
exhibition Andrei Erofeev and the director of the exhibition venue,
the Andrei Sakharov Center in Moscow, Juri Samodurov were sued
by different representatives of orthodox organizations and charged
with incitement to religious and national hatred under Art. 282, Par.
2b. In 2010 they were found guilty. The court case itself at various
points very much resembled a theater play put on stage – starting
with a “casting” of the witnesses through the Internet, cheat sheets
for the witnesses with the text of their testimonies in the courtroom
and coming to an end with comments and applause from the audience
for their performances.
Due to its resemblance to a play in the courtroom the trial of Erofeev
and Samodurov is highly reminiscent of the Soviet show trials,
which were consciously based on theatrical features such as a more
or less set script. One can cite numerous interferences in the court
case against Forbidden Art 2006 and the soviet show trials in terms of
their theatrical (not political) features, among them letter and media
campaigns generating a specific rhetoric serving the aim to characterize
the “inner enemy” of the state. But in terms of the legal action
against the organizers of the exhibition Forbidden Art 2006 , it was not
only individuals who were charged for the purpose of identifying an
inner enemy, as was the case in the Soviet show trials, but contemporary
art as a whole.
Herein lies a significant parallel between today’s trial and the predecessors
of the show trials – the mock trials. The mock trials of early
Soviet times were theatrical plays with amateur actors and dramatized
legal proceedings to be taken as actual legal precedents. Until the early
1930s the fictional courtroom of the mock trial concerned itself with
the creation and maintenance of new socialist morality. Therefore
mock trials were not legal cases but moral cases. As they served the
creation of new Soviet moral norms, the trial against Forbidden Art
2006 served the creation of new (traditionalistic and orthodox) artistic
The trial of Erofeev and Samodurov (and also other trials of artists
and curators in today’s Russia in general) is therefore a moral case
against contemporary art as a single social and cultural phenomenon,
which deals irreverently with popular religious and national symbols
in a way radically opposed to a traditionalistic approach to these symbols.
One gets the impression that the orthodox society claims not only
the exclusive right to interpret and utilize these symbols but also the
power to decide what is acceptable art and what is not. This trial was
designed to make an example to manifest aesthetic categories of art
production as contemplated under the law.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1592-0291
Appears in Collections:Slavica Tergestina 13 (2011)

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