When Voina Collective members were imprisoned for a prank involving overturning police cars, Banksy donated money for the cause. Voina then paid some of the money forward to other political prisoners.
Guerrilla art pranksters Voina are holding firm in their belief that high-concept, high-risk tactics are necessary, especially in a place as given to authoritarian tendencies as Russia.
When we last looked into the group in December, members Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev had been imprisoned for a stunt in which several Moscow police cars were overturned. Banksy heard of their beatings and imprisonment, and donated $130,000 to the group from a print sale, then paid their bail of $10,600. Once released, they were followed and beaten by mysterious men who claimed to be police.
An unknown percentage of the sum donated by Banksy was then donated to Voina’s political prisoner friends, according to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. According to the Voina website, one of Vorotnikov’s cellmates, Old Man Serioga, was released on March 26th.
The website states Vorotnikov describes Serioga as “quite a sexist, calls news ‘ads’, is crazy about Antarctics, and has a collection of penguin photos at home… Serioga the Odessite has a dream to become an MP in the Russian Parliament, but somehow it doesn’t really make him a bad person.”
Excerpts from Vorotnikov’s diaries read:
Once again, they’ve tried to press Old Man Serioga into informing. Fuck me sideways, it was like in some children’s books about revolutionary heroes. They kinda cornered him between the beds, and asked: “What’s going on in the cell?” – “Nothing much.” – “What are you talking about?” – “Chicks, weather… Install a mike and listen yourself, I’m not your phone.”
“I’m not your phone,” indeed. That should be the clarion call to all subversives and anti-authoritarians everywhere.
Vorotnikov and Nikolayev still face 7 years in prison for the police car stunt, but we wish them many more years of art-war.