Sometimes regarded as a punk-style rock group, Pussy Riot is actually a Russian protest-art collective started by non-musicians, led by Masha Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova. Members are theoretically always anonymous: they are “Pussy Riot” only when wearing their trademark neon-coloured balaclavas.
Masha Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova were unmasked and arrested after performing what they called a “punk prayer” inside Moscow’s biggest cathedral, Christ the Saviour, appealing to the Virgin Mary to “chase Putin out.” They were sentenced to two years in penal colonies and served 22 months.
The group cited British punk rock and oi! bands Angelic Upstarts, Cockney Rejects, Sham 69 and The 4-Skins as their main musical influences, as well as American punk rock band Bikini Kill, performance artist Karen Finley and the “riot grrrl” movement of the 1990s as inspirations.
They said: “What we have in common is impudence, politically loaded lyrics, the importance of feminist discourse and a non-standard female image. The difference is that Bikini Kill performed at specific music venues, while we hold unsanctioned concerts. On the whole, Riot Grrrl was closely linked to Western cultural institutions, whose equivalents don’t exist in Russia…Pussy Riot’s performances can either be called dissident art or political action that engages art forms. Either way, our performances are a kind of civic activity amidst the repressions of a corporate political system that directs its power against basic human rights and civil and political liberties.”
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Russia doesn’t have much of a reputation for manufacturing its own technology, but luxury group Gresso makes a fine job of dressing Western technology in its own opulent finishes. In 2007, Forbes magazine included the Gresso Avantgarde phone in its list of the top 10 most expensive mobile phones in the world.
The designs use materials from titanium and gold to African blackwood, crocodile leather and carbon fibre in their manufacture, with typical prices of around $5,000. The most expensive Gresso Titanium Bumpers cost $10,000. A current model based on the Apple iPhone 11 is the 11 PRO MAX, in 200-year-old African blackwood, titanium and 18k Gold, in a limited edition of 999 at $7,000.