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'A quarter of the world's timber grows within Siberia’s boundaries'
W.Bruce Lincoln

The Siberian phenomenon of 'Monstrating'

By Anna Liesowska
01 May 2013

May Day saw around 3,000 'monstrators' out on the streets of Novosibirsk, the latest gathering of a trend that began in 2004.

Happy May Day - Novosibirsk is celebrating Monstration 2013. Picture: Maxim Kiselev

In the new era of Post-Soviet Russia, May Day became a bit of a strange event - it was still a public holiday, yet many Russians preferred to escape to their summer houses rather than staying in the cities and taking part in traditional May 1 demonstrations. 

In 2004 activists of Novosibirsk Contemporary Art Terrorism group joined the May Day demonstration with posters carrying weird and deliberately absurd slogans. Their aim was to shake what became a dull political procession, and to tease what they saw as the absurdity of Russia's political life. 

Siberian artist Ivan Dyrkin named that march 'Monstration', a 'demonstration' minus 'de' prefix, which to him carried a negative meaning as in 'deconstruction' or 'degradation'. 

Later members of group moved to other cities. In Novosibirsk Artyom Loskutov stayed put and continued the tradition of Mostrations. 

Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk


Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk


Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk

The first few years Monstrations were unauthorised and organisers - namely  Loskutov - constantly had problems with the police. Pictures: Maxim Kiselev

The first few years Monstrations were unauthorised and organisers  -namely  Loskutov- constantly had problems with the police.

Officials tried to accuse Loskutov of extremism, but finally arrested him for the possession of marijuana in 2009. He says the drugs were planted on him. This arrest had a wide resonance among contemporary artists in Russia and abroad.

Probably this case was a reason for the rise in popularity of the Monstration phenomenon.

On May Day 2010, other cities across the former Soviet Union, like Moscow, Vladivostok, Perm, Riga and others followed the Novosibirsk lead. 

Every year's Monstration is different, because 'the world is different every day and it changes the context around Monstrations', Loskutov says. 

This year's May Day was not very sunny in Novosibirsk, but it didn't seem to bother several thousand people who came to the centre of the city and walked it with music and cheers. 

Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk


Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk


Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk


Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk


Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk


Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk


Monstration 2013 Novosibirsk

This May Day was not very sunny in Novosibirsk, but it didn't seem to bother several thousand people that came to the centre of the city and walked it with music and cheers. Pictures: Anna Liesowska

Almost everyon at Monstration carried a banner or a poster, or had a fancy dress on. One of the main banners of today's Monstration in Novosibirsk read 'Forward to the dark past', taking a piece out of the famour Soviet era slogan 'Forward to the bright future'. 

Another poster said: 'I carnivaled this city'.

It actually did feel a bit like a carnival, with lots of young people having fun and making others smile with their looks and posters; even the policemen that were watching over the crowds seemed to be enjoying this year's Monstration. 





Comments (4)

to Lilia, Tyumen: it's just a "HELLO" in russian in a wrong keyboard layout, it was obvious to me :).
Winged Doom of Monstration 2013, Novosibirsk
13/05/2013 13:46
1
0
yeah it would be great to have posters translated - you sort of see its fun but wish the words were there to to understand the jokes
Mariusz, Poland
03/05/2013 11:44
3
0
Viva Siberian Monstration!
I think most of readers would like to have translations of these banners, otherwise it is difficult to understand what is Monstration
Mihmak, China
02/05/2013 13:57
9
0
am I the only Russian who thought someone very rude was encoded in 'GHBDTH':))))?
Lilia, Tyumen
02/05/2013 13:06
4
0
1

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