Skochilenko: The Price of Freedom

Skochilenko: The Price of Freedom

31st Mar 23 -> 29th Apr 23

Private View 30th March 5pm-8pm


Sasha SkochilenkoSasha Skochilenko

Anna S., Dmitrii Moskovskii and Varvara have teamed up to co-curate an exhibition of works by Sasha Skochilenko, a Russian artist currently held in a detention facility for distributing anti-war information in a supermarket in St.-Petersburg, Russia. The exhibition will take place at The Koppel Project Station, a former police station in Hampstead, London.

Skochilenko replaced the price tags of goods on display with lookalikes that included information about war crimes committed by the Russian Army in Ukraine. She faces 10 years in prison for a case that is completely fabricated. The exhibition aims to amplify Skochilenko’s voice beyond the walls of the prison cell she has been spending the past year in and raise awareness of the atrocities the Russian government has been performing against its citizens.

All the artworks presented were created by Skochilenko while in detention at the Arsenalka facility. The team obtained detailed scans of the artworks through Skochilenko's partner Sonya, who has been instrumental in the exhibition's planning. Skochilenko has been drawing almost daily, as this is one of the few creative activities she is allowed to do while in detention. By putting the artworks in the former solitary cells of the Hampstead police station, the curatorial team aims to deliver their message loud and clear: freedom of speech can't be muted, incarcerated or held hostage.

The Koppel Project Station being the exhibition space as a former police station with most of its grim interiors still intact, serves as a powerful and symbolic location for the exhibition, highlighting the importance of freedom of speech and the consequences of speaking out against oppressive regimes.

Each of the three team members has added a bit of their own perception to the installation to emphasise that regardless of the physical space and legal hurdles between us, we maintain and strengthen connections, encourage dialogue and continue to create art together with the activists in Russia. The exhibition space will also include court proceedings materials and letters exchanged between Skochilenko and her loved ones.

The exhibition will feature educational workshops, lectures, film screenings, and discussions that revolve around Skochilenko's core values: LGBTQ+ rights, anti-war activism movement, feminism and mental health. Work with thread and old fabric, embroidery on reused materials, and implementing upcycled materials are there for a reason: one of Skochilenko's core values is caring about the environment and all the beings inhabiting the Earth. By giving new life to old fabrics, the team hopes to get her message across.

All donations and merch sale profits will be used to pay for Skochilenko's medical needs and her lawyer's work.

Skochilenko's story is shocking and outrageous, and the exhibition's main message is clear: anti-war activism within Russia is very much alive, but not well. Many activists have been assaulted, beaten up, fined, or even imprisoned for simply speaking the truth. The exhibition aims to support Skochilenko and other activists who are currently fighting against the regime despite being fully aware of the possible tragic consequences. Because true freedom will win, better sooner than later.

Born in Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, Sasha Skochilenko embarked on her artistic journey at a young age. Her passion for art, literature, and the human psyche led her to the prestigious Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Saint Petersburg State University, where her flame burned brighter than ever before. Sasha published the Book About Depression, shedding light on mental health issues in Russia and paving the way for future dialogue on the topic.

As a multi-talented artist, Skochilenko found expression in various forms, including poetry, music, illustrations, and videos. Her education at the St. Petersburg Theater Academy in film and TV directing opened doors to technically complex projects, where she combined water, sand, stones, paper applications, stop-motion animation, and ordinary video sequences into one-of-a-kind creations.

Sasha's creative spirit led her to work as a freelance video editor, illustrator, and photographer, collaborating with NGOs, and even teaching at a children's film school in the Carpathians. Her musical project, Free Jams, provided a platform for amateur musicians to showcase their talent without judgement. And her VK-public, Lastochka Plus, was a haven for her musical tracks.

As a brave and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Skochilenko has faced opposition and disapproval in Russia. But she refuses to be silenced. She stands firm in her beliefs and convictions, fighting for her rights and those of her community.

Her fight against the Russian government and its invasion of Ukraine has resulted in fines and imprisonment. Skochilenko's unwavering belief in the power of creative expression and the necessity of speaking up against oppression is evident in her own words. From her prison cell, she writes, "I represent everything that the Putin regime is so intolerant of: creativity, pacifism, LGBT, psycho-enlightenment, feminism, humanism, and love for everything bright, ambiguous, unusual." Alexandra Skochilenko was included in BBC's "100 Women 2022" list, and Amnesty International considers Skochilenko a prisoner of conscience.

Sasha Skochilenko's story is one of courage, creativity, and determination. A beacon of hope and inspiration, she reminds us of all of the power of the human spirit and the importance of standing up for what we believe in, no matter the cost.

The Russian Democratic Society (RDS) is a community of passionate individuals committed to advocating for a democratic future in Russia. As Russian immigrants living in the UK, they have come together to form a powerful network of like-minded individuals, groups, and organisations who share our vision for a more just and equitable society.

Our community stands for democracy, LGBTQ+ rights, and feminist rights, and we work tirelessly to empower people to push forward innovative ideas and create meaningful change. At this anti-war exhibition, we are proud to showcase our commitment to these values and raise awareness of the urgent need for progress in Russia.

As they watch Russia descend into chaos, they remain steadfast in our mission to build a coalition of ordinary people who are ready to collaborate and contribute to our social, economic, and political future. RDS firmly believe that a legitimate system of democratic governance is not only necessary for achieving this future, but is also our constitutional right.

Through their work, RDS aim to provide a platform for all individuals to share their ideas and opinions, and facilitate horizontal connections to promote collaboration and drive progress forward. Together, they hope they can create a more just and equitable society for all, and we invite you to join us in this mission.

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