One-Night-Only Manhattan Benefit Will Feature Original Pussy Riot Videos – Including the Song That Launched a Movement

Press Release
September 10, 2012

One-Night-Only Manhattan Benefit Will Feature Original Pussy Riot Videos – Including the Song That Launched a Movement

Lombard Freid Gallery, Amnesty International, Freepussyriot.org, The Voice Project and Others Call for the Immediate & Unconditional Release of Pussy Riot; Appeal Scheduled for October 1st

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @spksingh

NEW YORK -- Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) Executive Director Suzanne Nossel will join other human rights advocates, artists and musicians tonight in Chelsea to launch an exhibition tour to free the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, the group announced today.

Amnesty International played a leading role in the worldwide protests to free three members of the band who were imprisoned by Russian authorities for performing a protest song called “Virgin Mary, Relieve Us of Putin.” The Nobel-prize winning human rights group has declared them Prisoners of Conscience and has called for their immediate and unconditional release.

"Amnesty International and our partners are calling on all those who believe in, and benefit from, free speech to join our fight for Pussy Riot,” Nossel said. “Putting these young women in jail for their political views was abhorrent, and it’s not an isolated case. It’s yet another sign that Putin is continuing his assault on freedom of expression in Russia. Free speech is the cornerstone of a just society, and artistic expression must be protected.”

The benefit tonight will feature five original videos by Pussy Riot, including footage of the protest song that landed three women from the band in jail.

The event will include remarks and performances by human rights activists, artists and writers, including DJ Spooky, Martha Wilson, and Lea Freid, partner at the Lombard Freid Gallery. This exhibition provides a platform for important voices to be heard from the contemporary arts community to advocate for the women’s release.

“It’s a privilege to join this fight and add our voices to the incredible outpouring of support around the globe for these courageous young artists,” Fried said.

Hunter Heaney, Executive Director of The Voice Project added, “free speech is the cornerstone of any free society, we all know this, but it's so often music and art that help bring those freedoms. Our sisters in Pussy Riot have likewise passed us a message; that if we are ever to be a true global community, a "humankind," we cannot stand by and let the voices of dissent be silenced, no matter the distance, no matter the borders. Their songs are ours and it's up to us now to use our voices.”

Musicians and artists including Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Billy Bragg, Red Hot Chili Peppers (Anthony Keidis and Flea), Sting, Franz Ferdinand, Beastie Boys, Bikini Kill, Anti-Flag and many others have echoed Amnesty’s call to free the band members.

Background

Three members of the Russian punk band – Ekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and NadejdaTolokonnikova – were sentenced on August 17 to two years in prison for "hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred” for performing their protest song “Virgin Mary, Redeem Us of Putin." On August 27, Pussy Riot's lawyers submitted an appeal from the sentence, and the appeal hearing has been scheduled for October 1 at the Moscow City Court.

The song criticizes the decision by some representatives of the Orthodox Church to support Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and whimsically asks the Virgin Mary to become a feminist and banish Putin. The performance took place amid a rising tide of outrage at Putin-led restraints on freedom of expression and assembly and demonstrations protesting unfair elections in Russia.

Event Details

The one-night-only benefit exhibition is open to the public and will be held tonight, Monday, September 10, at the Lombard Freid Gallery (518 West 19th St.) in New York City from 6-10 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase at http://guestli.st/119883 and will be sold at the door.

A press preview is scheduled for 5-6 p.m. Journalists and photographers interested in attending or speaking with Amnesty International representatives should contact the AIUSA media office at 202-509-8194.

Venue Contact: Lombard Freid Gallery 212-967-8040

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.