Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina Plans to Open an All-Women Museum

Speaking with Artnet News, Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina — who was released from prison in December 2013 after over a year and a half for the famous anti-Putin performance at Cathedral of Christ the Saviour — decided to focus predominantly on the expanding purpose and meaning of Pussy Riot. 

What originated as a Russian punk rock protest group has evolved into a greater worldwide feminist symbol (she explains that once you put the famous mask on, you “are Pussy Riot…you should not have to have some kind of membership”), and Alyokhina is now looking to extend the reach of the riot to challenge the male domination of the visual art world.

She’s currently in the midst of working with other Pussy Rioters and  Marat Guelman (a gallerist recently evicted from his art space for reasons he claimed were related to his having hosted an auction with Alyokhina to support political prisoners) to found an all-women’s museum — the New Balkan Women’s Museum in Montenegro. Allegedly, she’s still consulting other feminists to determine what the museum’s aesthetic should be, but what is known is that the museum’s curators will all be women, as will its administrative staff, as will the artists in its exhibits.

The importance of such a project is far beyond pure statistics, though statistics do help to show exactly how far the art world still has to go. Recent surveys suggested that there’s been a rise in women running museums — in 2014, the number was at 42.6 percent, but the museums they ran often had far smaller budgets than those run by men, and their pay was also significantly lower. As for representation of women artists, the numbers were far less promising (though still an improvement on the past). As Artnet reported earlier this year, 29 percent of solo shows at the Whitney, 25 percent at the Tate Modern and 16 percent at the Pompidou have been devoted to women artists since 2007. Meanwhile, the Guggenheim is up from its statistic of zero solo shows by women artists in 2000 to 14% in 2014.