On Sunday night, a fragile, skinny and pale man, with a hood cloaking his head, stood at the entrance to the headquarters of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB)—the inheritor to the KGB—and methodically poured gasoline onto the front door. Then he lit the wooden entrance on fire with his lighter, and waited calmly, with his back to the flames, holding the gas can in his hands as the authorities descended.
It was a scene straight out of an action movie and the arsonist was, in fact, a performance artist—although the fire was very real.
The artist, 31-year-old Petr Pavlensky is well known inside Russia for his outré stunts—including nailing his scrotum to the cobblestones of Red Square, stitching his lips together to protest the imprisonment of Pussy Riot members, and slicing off his earlobe in a Van Gogh-ian act atop the Serbsky psychiatric clinic, where the Soviets infamously locked up their dissidents. Read more