Russian artist nails scrotum to ground in police protest

Petr Pavlensky during a performance where he nailed his scrotum to the ground. Via YouTube
Petr Pavlensky during a performance where he nailed his scrotum to the ground.
Via YouTube

A Russian artist well known for his pain-inducing political demonstrations has sparked a collective cringe across the globe with his latest performance, which involved driving a nail through his scrotum.

Petr Pavlensky, who first made headlines in 2012 by sewing his mouth shut in solidarity for Russian pop band Pussy Riot, took things to the next level, this time to coincide with Russian Police Day.

Pavelnsky stripped naked outside Lenin’s Mausoleum on the Red Square Sunday and drove the terrifying large nail through his scrotum and into the cobblestone beneath him, fastening himself to the ground. Russian police covered him with a blanket and later removed the nail with a claw hammer. He was arrested and brought to a hospital, where he refused to be admitted.

“A naked artist, looking at his testicles nailed to the cobblestone is a metaphor of apathy, political indifference and fatalism of Russian society,” Pavlensky later said in a statement.

Pavlensky is no stranger to pain. After his mouth-sewing demonstration, he was taken to a psychiatric hospital, where he was, in fact, deemed to be sane. Not long after, he put on another demonstration called “Carcass,” which involved wrapping his naked body in a “cocoon” of barbed wire until he was freed with wire clippers.

He explained the demonstration was to protest Russian laws he found oppressive, saying, “The human body is naked like a carcass, there is nothing on it except the barbed wire, which by the way was invented for protection of livestock. These laws, like the wire, keep people in individual pens: All this persecution of political activists, ‘prisoners of May, 6,’ governmental repressions is the metaphor of the pen with the barbed wire around it.”


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