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Defenders Take To Social Media Over 'Pornographic' Photo Exhibit Shuttered In Moscow

  • Tom Balmforth

Activists calling themselves the Officers of Russia blocked a Jock Sturges exhibition in Moscow to protest what they characterized as child pornography.

Activists calling themselves the Officers of Russia blocked a Jock Sturges exhibition in Moscow to protest what they characterized as child pornography.

MOSCOW -- Russians are protesting the forced closure of an exhibition of work by a controversial American photographer after vigilante tactics by conservative activists who accused its Moscow organizers of promoting child pornography.

In response to the weekend furor that prevented the display of Jock Sturges' works at Moscow's Lumiere Brothers Photography center, Russian theater director Oleg Lipovetsky on September 25 called on compatriots via Facebook to post images of renowned paintings, sculptures, and photographs featuring nudity.

Many of Sturges' best-known photographs feature nude adolescents, and his work has prompted at least one FBI raid and efforts in the United States to get his books banned.

Activists calling themselves the Officers of Russia on September 24 blocked the exhibition to protest what they characterized as child pornography, and one activist was detained for throwing urine at some of the images.

WATCH: Protests Close U.S. Photographer's Moscow Exhibition



Lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, for decades a conservative cultural warrior in the parliament, assailed the exhibition as "propaganda of pedophilia" and reportedly asked authorities to investigate its organizers.

Lipovetsky urged sympathizers to register their disapproval of the exhibition's closure via social media via a "flashmob" with the hashtag #withoutshame (#безстеснения).

"Let's remember the great images of art that glorify the beauty of the human body," Lipovetsky wrote on Facebook alongside a photo of the 19th-century sculpture Venus With Apple by Dane Bertel Thorvaldsen:

Facebook user Sergei Grushko posted a picture of the 1872 work The Sale Of The Child Slave by Russian war painter Viktor Verashchagin. "Officers of Russia!" he wrote, "Where have you been looking since 1872? Non-officers of Russia! Surely you don't want our children to be painted in such a way? Attention Yugend-Ombusdman! This obscenity is being displayed at the address: Moscow, Lavrushinsky pereulok, 10, hall 27" -- the address of Russia's Tretyakov State Gallery:

Irena Nesterova posted mirror-image photos of several works by Russian and Soviet painter Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, including his 1912 seminal work Bathing Of The Red Horse:

Pavel Rudnev posted contemporary Colombian artist Fernando Botero's Adam and Eve.

Tanya Sushenkova posted a "bodyscape" by photographer Carl Warner.

On Twitter, the hashtag appeared to have been hijacked for purposes other than those declared by Lipovetsky, with some users posting obscene sexual images and others attaching pictures of rubble and bloodied bodies, possibly in Syria.

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    Tom Balmforth

    Tom Balmforth covers Russia and other former Soviet republics. He can be reached at balmfortht@rferl.org

     

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