A monstration is a public performance similar to a demonstration but intended as creative performance art, often parodying a serious demonstration. The term was coined by Russian artist Ivan Dyrkin in 2004, and the phenomenon has been most popular in Russia.
Orange Alternative (Polish: Pomarańczowa Alternatywa) was a Polish anti-communist underground movement, started in Wrocław, a city in south-west Poland, in the 1980s. Its main purpose was to offer a wider group of citizens an alternative way of opposition against the authoritarian regime by means of peaceful street protests that used absurd and nonsensical elements.
In 2004, Artyom Loskutov and members of the Contemporary Art Terrorism group in Novosibirsk joined the annual May Day demonstration. They were carrying posters with deliberately absurd slogans in an attempt to shake up a boring political procession and to make fun. Fellow Siberian artist Ivan Dyrkin named the march "Monstration," a demonstration without the prefix de, which he considered a negative connotation as in deconstruction or degradation.
The modern monstration incorporates signs and messages that are deliberately absurd, nonsensical and apolitical that indirectly defy the government and express a conceptual paradox. Although monstrations are apolitical, participants have been arrested for political agitation. In 2010, Monstrations took place in 20 cities like Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Vladivostok.
"Death Star for rent" and "Dark side has no cookies"
In 2015, the main slogan was "We did not watch 50 Shades".
In 2014, Artyom Loskutov attempted to organize a routine monstration for August 17, when he ran into trouble. “We were talking about having a march, which is absolutely allowed under law,” Loskutov says. “But in writing about it, we wrote about creating a Siberian Republic within the Russian Federation. There was no talk about separatism or anything, it’s just that Moscow doesn’t govern the regions very effectively.”
The purpose of the protest was to ridicule Kremlin's hypocrisy in the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and to raise awareness about politics in Siberia. "They decided to tell us how great it is when some republic moves for self-determination. Okay, well let's apply this to other regions. Can Siberia allow itself this same rhetoric? It turns out it can't."
Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor launched a media blackout of the event, issued warnings to 14 media outlets that ran the story and threatened to close BBC Russian Service for reporting the announcement. Roskomnadzor also launched an official investigation against BBC to confirm "an apparent violation of the law." In response, BBC added a description of the event as a “parody” that in no way promoted Siberia's independence from Moscow.
Russian authorities compared the potential monstration protest to Euromaidan that led to the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. Nikolai Valuyev called it the "first attempt of global efforts to promote separatism in Russia."
According to Dmitry Zhuravlyov, director of Institute for Regional Problems based in Moscow, "I can understand the position of these people [organizers of the march] on a psychological level," Zhuravlyov said. "They want to have more control over the riches of Siberia, and that is understandable. But what is unacceptable to Russia is that this whole idea goes against the Constitution. You cannot change the status of your region just like that." President Vladimir Putin recently signed legislation that introduced prison sentences for violations of territorial integrity in Russia.
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