“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it,” said Bertolt Brecht, a playwright known for his demand to break the fourth wall, the one that separates performers and the audience. Nobody should be a mere passive spectator. We are artists, but we are not entertainers—that’s always been Pussy Riot’s motto. LASTESIS, the Chilean feminist performance collective, shows today how popular art can be about changing the world, not entertaining.
LASTESIS created an international hit song and viral dance, and unlike most bangers, it’s not about that Friday party. Five days after the group first performed “Un violador en tu camino” (“A Rapist in Your Path”), they performed in Santiago, Chile, outside the country’s Supreme Court on Nov. 25, 2019, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and it quickly became a feminist anthem worldwide. The dance features squats, because when they arrest you, the cops strip you down and you’re forced to squat in front of them. (I’ve done it; nothing is more disgusting.) Now it has been performed by activists in more than 52 countries.
LASTESIS calls their performances “interventions.” “And it wasn’t my fault, where I was, or how I dressed/ The rapist was you, the rapist is you/ It’s the police, the judges, the state, the President/ The oppressive state is a macho rapist,” goes the LASTESIS song, and women all around the world relate to these words. Victim blaming and slut shaming are the deeply ideological assumptions that are built into our brains, education and legal systems globally. It has to be changed. The 21st century is the century of sisterhood. Screw you, Weinsteins of the world. We have just started.
Tolokonnikova is a member of Pussy Riot