The beginning of May in Russia is a traditional time for mass street processions and shares of very different properties, from the Soviet classics – the May Day demonstration to its antipode – also becoming the newest classic of carnival monsters, whose absurdist slogans, against the backdrop of extreme formalization of official politics, also seem political. In 2018, the issue of what is allowed for street expression is particularly acute: on the eve of the holidays, on April 30, Moscow met with a rally agreed by the city authorities against the blocking of Telegram, where the May 5 action, announced by Moscow authorities, was announced, which his ally Aleksei Navalny, – like six years ago, it will be held on the eve of the inauguration of Vladimir Putin and also runs the risk of ending with mass detentions.

Demonstration of absurdityIn May there was a May Day “Monstration”

Three genres of street actions – a demonstration, a montage and an uncoordinated action of dissenters – quite clearly describe the three possibilities of political statements on the streets. May Day in post-Soviet Russia, with the servility of most trade unions, lost its original content: the struggle of wage workers for their labor and political rights. Actually, the modern May Day is also a carnival and a farce: the stamping of slogans makes such official events less meaningful than the actual compulsory participation in them. What are the rights of the working people, if they are forced to conduct a legal day off in a column with a banner in hand? The montage, which took place this year for the 15th time, was at one time the answer to the optimistic optimism of official actions, which is still manifested in the form of absurdist monstrous posters like “Peace, work, meow” (however, slogans official May Day demonstrations are now approaching monstrous ones – like “Cheap taxi – the road to the cemetery”, which could be seen on Red Square). The further, the more politicized are the other purely game posters of monsters like “Russia has two enemies – Telegram and dried apricots” or the main slogan of the montage-2018 – “North Korea”, which continues the tradition of the past: “Our Hell” was the main poster the post-Crimean monstrosity of 2014, “Forward into the Dark Past” – 2013, “System, you are so nervous”? – still Medvedev’s 2011 year, the last slogan is now part of not only the history of street movements, but also of modern culture: the original poster will be exhibited in the Tretyakov Gallery it was on the exposition devoted to the art of the early 2000s.

Participation in the monsters with the slogans based on the game with the cliche, first of all the way to show: I’m different, not like you, says the linguist Maxim Cronhaus. Such self-expression means not so much political protest as distance from what is happening, which does not like. Politicization of monstrosities is connected with a change in the cultural vector of power, political analyst Alexei Makarkin believes. At first they fit in with the logic of power that perceived the freedom-loving and radical cultural community as a probable partner, but now, with the assertion of conservatism, irony and sarcasm are perceived as blasphemy.

Monstrations are also an answer to the regulation of the political sphere, the difficulty and danger of a meaningful and sharp political statement – something that the participants of the shares risk to face on May 5. Carnival protests and processions with absurdist slogans of power to ban are still a bit embarrassing: such prohibitions risk looking even more ridiculous than the slogans of the monsters. However, in the history of monsters there was this: in 2015 and 2016. the founder and ideologist of the monsters, the Novosibirsk artist Artem Loskutov, was fined for violating the rules for holding public actions, and in 2015 he was also arrested for 10 days. Such a completely serious reaction to a seemingly innocuous public event makes the carnival monster ever closer to the inaugural protests on May 5. After several attempts to coordinate with the Moscow mayoralty carrying out of the action in the center of Moscow, the supporters of Navalny never received an official document. Previous uncoordinated actions led to the detention of hundreds of participants, and the protests in 2012 ended in a marsh affair, absurd only in meaning.


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