At one point, a man whose name I missed was speaking about how so many of those who submitted complaints about the exhibition had not actually seen it - and how it reminded him of how, back in the 1940s, the masses were declaring they hadn't read Boris Pasternak but condemned him nevertheless.
Then there was a phone call from the audience, which went something like this: Could you please explain why Eduard Limonov calls himself a National Bolshevik - he sounds like a totally normal person, and yet...
And I suddenly realized that the man I'd just heard was Eduard Limonov. And he did sound like a totally normal person.
His answer was too ambiguous - like, the name of his party is some kind of a secret that would be revealed in five years or so...
No, but really, why does he call himself a National Bolshevik?
Here's some more on this exhibition ordeal:
- From a RFE/RL 2004 story:
Now, a trial in Moscow is focusing the spotlight on the issue of religious freedom, Russian ethnicity, and the role of the state. The case pits the prosecutor's office against three human rights activists charged with inciting religious and ethnic hatred for organizing a modern-art exhibition entitled "Caution, Religion."
The exhibition, hosted by the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Social Center, featured 42 artworks by 42 artists -- some of them controversial but all intended to provoke discussion about the role of religion in modern society, according to the curators. One work featured Jesus's face drawn on a Coca-Cola logo next to the words "This is My Blood."
Just four days after the exhibition opened last year, six vandals destroyed several of the pieces, smearing on the museum's walls graffiti that accused Sakharov museum workers of being "Orthodox haters." The museum sued the men but lost the case.
"The trial reflects the legal right of the state to conduct its religious policy and it may well serve as a lesson to those people who are fostering tensions in the religious affairs of our country."
Now, prosecutors have turned the tables by charging Sakharov center Director Yurii Samodurov, exhibition organizer Lyudmila Vasilovskaya and artist Anna Mikhalchuk Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code. The article punishes actions that "incite ethnic, racial or religious hatred."
The prosecutor, speaking at the trial opening yesterday, said the exhibition had "insulted and humiliated the national dignity of a great number of believers." The three could face five years' imprisonment if found guilty.
- And a lot more info on the Sakharov Centers site (in Russian) - tomorrow, the verdict will be announced by Moscow's Tagansky Court...