Pyotr Pavlensky.

French Court Extends Pretrial Detention of Russian Performance Artist

Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper reports that French authorities have prolonged the pretrial detention of Pyotr Pavlensky, the beleaguered Russian performance artist who, along with his partner, Oksana Shalygina, and their two young daughters, was granted political asylum in France last May after he and his family fled Russia in the wake of sexual assault charges (the artist and his wife have been accused of rape by a Russian actress). Pavlensky has been held in the country since he set fire to a Bank of France lobby in Paris last October. An activist who took a picture of the artist in front of the conflagration posted the image to her Twitter account with the following quote: “The Bastille was destroyed by a people in revolution; the people destroyed its symbol of despotism and power. The Banque de France has taken the place of the Bastille, and bankers have taken the place of monarchs.”

According to the artist’s lawyer Dominique Beyreuther Minkov, he has gone on a hunger strike “in protest at the lack of transparency” regarding his detainment. Pavlensky came to the public’s attention after he sewed his lips shut to protest the imprisonment of Pussy Riot members in 2012 and nailed his scrotum to Moscow’s Red Square the following year.