Cunsthaus presents Pussy Riot Music Videos

In continuing efforts to provide engaging cultural programs and experiences through a collaborative and feminist curatorial perspective, Cunsthaus is proud to present a series of music video screenings by Russian artists and activists Pussy Riot opening on Friday, January 6th from 7-10pm. Admission is free but donations are encouraged. All contributions will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

Cunsthaus presents Pussy Riot

Known for their blend of radical performance and leftist ideals, Pussy Riot became the focus of international attention in 2012 as members Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested and jailed after performing an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. As Pussy Riot researcher Masha Gessen has written, “Pussy Riot are the first real dissidents of the Putin era, but like all dissidents they’re individual actors, perpetually out on a limb. Their actions have had dire but clear consequences, and in return for the hardships they’ve faced, they have received a voice and a mission.” Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore has deemed Pussy Riot “One of the most important groups of our time.”

A vocal and active proponent of free speech in Russia, Pussy Riot has turned its attention to the United States, as evidenced by their most recent video “Make America Great Again” which will be screened at Cunsthaus. Also to be shown are the Russian-language video “Organs” with an English translation and “Straight Outta Vagina,” co-written with TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek. Of this song, Tolokonnikova told The Guardian, “I believe the idea of powerful female sexuality is much bigger than any populist megalomaniac man.” These music videos epitomize the brash and brave energy of Pussy Riot, and further their role as international protesters. Cunsthaus has worked with Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova to secure permission for these screenings.


CUNSTHAUS was established in the spring of 2016 by fourteen women in the Tampa Bay-area with practices in education, visual art, music, curation, and writing. Sited next to artist-run gallery space Tempus Projects, established in 2009, CUNSTHAUS is further developing the Seminole Heights neighborhood as an arts destination. Offering unique exhibitions and events spanning a range of media and a varied survey of artists, CUNSTHAUS’ primary mission is to create a space for artistic expression, dialogue and reflection contributing to the arts community within the local neighborhood of Seminole Heights and the Tampa Bay region.

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Tracy Midulla Reller,
TEMPUS PROJECTS Founder and Creative Director

Olda Reviews: Melting Metaphors and the RNC

Sometimes the most contentious relationships can be the most productive ones. Artists’ and politicians’ mutual suspicion (and at times outright disdain) of each other often serves as fodder for both groups: artwork for the former and budget cuts for the latter.

by Danny Olda

Sometimes the most contentious relationships can be the most productive ones. Artists’ and politicians’ mutual suspicion (and at times outright disdain) of each other often serves as fodder for both groups: artwork for the former and budget cuts for the latter. Although this scuffle between art and professional politics has been playing out internationally over the course of decades something special is unfolding in Tampa Bay at the moment. With the Republican National Convention set to descend on the area within the next couple weeks, a sort of case study of the interplay between art and politics will present itself.

Predictably, there will be an abundance of politically themed exhibits. Naturally, Tampa’s downtown museums will be serving up limp proxy events that convention delegates are sure to find just splendid. Corresponding offerings from Cafe Hey within the convention zone as well as the CL Space and West Tampa Center for the Arts just outside it promise to be more engaging exhibits. Further outside the convention area, throughout Tampa Bay, numerous other shows intend to vie for the increased sets of eyes and political interest. The profusion of political art exhibits may make it appear that the RNC only offers the Tampa Bay art scene a curating no-brainer. However, the art hints at something different.

danny olda, RNC
Promo photo for West Tampa Center for the Arts’ upcoming exhibit “Common Sense”

One piece, a “temporary” sculpture, will be installed in Tampa’s Lykes Gaslight Square on August 27th. The sculpture from artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese is made up of the words “Middle Class” carved from a block of ice that is intended to melt quickly in the Florida summer sun. While the sentiment is a tad obvious in terms of contemporary art, the sculpture’s relationship to its intended audience is a bit more subtle. Gaslight Square is within the convention zone. That means the sculpture will almost exclusively be seen by convention delegates rather than the local art crowd. This is just one of many current pieces that appear to be directed at the RNC instead of art scene usuals.

Rather than speaking to an audience, it seems the work’s intention is to speak for one. In a way, these political works of art (if executed well) act as mediators – we allow the art to plead on our behalf. Art has the capacity for succinctness and emotional impact that can rarely be spoken or written. Informing a politician that the middle class is disappearing is very different from allowing a politician to witness it literally waste away.

However, this sense of “pleading” has a quietly sad quality also. The ample political art aimed at the RNC can feel like a desperate struggle to emotionally pique individuals that have sway over our day-to-day lives. This kind of personal authenticity is usually only reserved for last-ditch efforts because it’s so difficult to ignore. In this way the querulous relationship between politics and art produces the quietest protest downtown Tampa will see, but the most difficult to disregard.

Danny Olda is our Tampa Correspondent and publisher of
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