Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky has this publicly cut off his own ear lobe in protest of Russia’s forced psychiatric treatment of a number of political dissidents.
In a public performance held on Sunday a fully naked Pavelensky climbed to the roof of Moscow’s Serbsky psychiatric center, where he then cut off his own earlobe with a kitchen knife. The artist remained sitting on the roof bleeding openly until he was later removed by police and taken to a nearby hospital.
It was later announced that the artist is healthy despite his wounds and is expected to be discharged from care later this week.
Following the performance piece Pavelensky’s wife released an official statement in which the artist spoke of his opposition to the treatment of political dissidents by Russian authorities. “Armed with psychiatric diagnoses, the bureaucrat in a white lab coat cuts off from society those pieces that prevent him from establishing a monolithic dictate of a single, mandatory norm for everyone” the statement read.
The Serbsky building in Moscow had previously come under fire by political activists after it was claimed that the site was used to administer psychiatric treatment to a number of anti-government activists against their will. In 2012 it was reported that Mikhail Kosenko, a political protester involved in anti-Putin gatherings, was put into ‘indefinite psychiatric treatment’ by Russian authorities. Kosenko was later declared mentally ill, an action that many have claimed was an attempt to silence him and has no basis in truth.
Pavelensky also claims that he himself has been the target of similar actions. Following his participation in a pro-Ukraine protest in February of this year a court case was raised attempting to force the artist to be examined for mental illnesses. Pavelensky was prosecuted criminally but the request to force him into treatment was blocked. The artist has since been independently examined by a psychiatric practitioner and was declared to be sane.
This case is not the first time that Pavelensky has created headlines for his performance art. His work often involves self-mutilation as a form of political protest and is designed to shock the public into paying attention to a number of issues. In 2012 Pavelensky famously sewed his own lips shut in solidarity with the imprisoned punk band Pussy Riot.
His most famous protest however came in November of 2013 after he nailed his own testicles to Moscow’s Red Square in protest of the Russian public’s political indifference.