Artist Slices Off Own Earlobe to Protest Putin’s Politics

He demonstrates against the Russian government's "cutting off" of dissidents with a little Van Gogh action

You might remember Pyotr Pavlensky from when he nailed his scrotum to Red Square back in 2013. Vocativ had the chance to ask him why he did it, as well as why he sewed his mouth shut in solidarity with Pussy Riot and wrapped himself in barbed wire outside a government building.

The artist and activist is at it again, cutting off his earlobe with a butcher knife Sunday while naked in broad daylight, reports.

Pavlensky situated himself on the edge of the roof of the Serbsky State Scientific Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry, an institution that labeled political dissidents “mentally unstable” during the Soviet era. Then he chopped off the dangly part of his ear with a large kitchen knife. Photos show him looking nonchalant as lines of blood drip and roll down his chest. Police took him away shortly after his stunt.

“The knife separates the earlobe from the body. A concrete wall of psychiatry separates the reasonable from the mad patients,” the Russian Van Gogh said in a statement about his public performance, which he called “Separation.” “By again using psychiatry for political goals, the police give themselves the power to separate the sane from the insane.”

Last week, the Russian FBI ordered another psychiatric evaluation for Pavlensky after he was accused of vandalism at a protest in support of Ukraine. According to his lawyer, a psychiatric evaluation of Pavlensky has been ordered three times already, and he was declared sane each time.

His demonstrationopposing the psychiatric evaluation of political foesis especially relevant after Russian authorities interrogated Ukrainian air force pilot Nadiya Savchenko on psychiatric grounds. Savchenko is accused of complicity in the murder of Russian journalists in UkraineMany human-rights activists said Savchenko’s case was politically motivated.

Pavlensky was under house arrest before making his bloody statement and is currently being held at Botkinskaya Hospital, TVRain reports.




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