Pyotr Pavlensky, 29, reportedly sat for an hour and a half on the square on Sunday afternoon, with a nail driven through his genitals into the ground.
The performance can be seen as a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of contemporary Russian society. As the government turns the country into one big prison, stealing from the people and using the money to grow and enrich the police apparatus and other repressive structures, society is allowing this, and forgetting its numerical advantage, is bringing the triumph of the police state closer by its inaction.
Pavlensky previously attracted attention by sewing his lips together in July of last year and demonstrating outside St Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral in support of the imprisoned Pussy Riot protesters. In May of this year, he wrapped his naked body in a “cocoon” of barbed wire outside the city’s parliament.