Pavlensky – Man and Might

Petr Pavlensky is a Russian performance artist and activist. In his works he has sewn his mouth shut in support of Pussy Riot, nailed himself by the testicles to the Red Square in Moscow, and cut off his earlobe like Vincent van Gogh. His works criticize the Russian government.

Body and bodily presence are the central elements in Pavlensky’s works. Sacrificing one’s body is a symbolically powerful act. Still the body is most visible by just being. When Pavlensky is doing nothing – sitting, lying down, or being silent – he becomes an object, an object for the authority to act on. That is the key to Pavlensky’s performances. That is where their power lies: in the presence. Pavlensky’s silence is like a blank board that the authority colours with its acts. His body becomes a symbol of the state.

Irene Langemann’s documentary introduces us to the artistic principles of Pavlensky, who declines the institutionalised forms of art. Camera follows him around, from one court to another. The line between performances is sometimes a line drawn in water. Often the performance continues from the street to the interrogation room and from the interrogation room to the court. Who actually is the main character in the performances? That is open for discussion.

Suvi Annola / Translation: Tuomo Karvonen

Language: Russian
Subtitles: English

  • Name in Original Language: Pawlenski – Der Mensch und die Macht
  • Director: Irene Langemann
  • Country: Germany
  • Year: 2016
  • Length: 99 min
  • Age limit: null
  • Cinematography: Franz Koch, Maxim Tarasyugin, Nadeshda Naumova, Irene Langemann
  • Editing: Lena Rem
  • Production: Wolfgang Bergmann / Lichtfilm, Thomas Lorenz / SWR/ARTE


  • Cinema Artis, hall 1: Sunday 29.01 - 20:00