WK 6 – Artist of the Week – Nadya Tolokonnikova

nadya 1

About the Artist

Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, known professionally as “Nadya Tolokonnikova”, was born on November 7, 1989 in Norilsk, Krasnoyarskiy kray, RSFSR, USSR (now Russia). Her main art mediums resides in music and performance, and she is also a political activist. She is in a music group called “Pussy Riot”, which is based in Russia and has received a lot of criticism, backlash and even imprisonment from the Russian government where at one point Nadya Tolokonnikova was sentenced to 2 years in prison for one of her performances in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. She was charged for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”, but would be released early with another member after serving 21 months due to an amnesty bill being passed.

pussy riot

Formal Analysis

By analyzing the early development of their band, they had a very rebellious look. As you can see from the above image, all the band members including Tolokonnikova wore ski masks, and wore leggings and dresses. By looking at one of her songs to be produced in the years to come, “Make America Great Again” had a very dynamic and revealing choreographing, where the theme was set on some of the issues residing in America and discussions of the intentions and credibility of Donald Trump. Through out the music, there is a lot of “skin” reveal, and had a lot of recordings from Trump, or samples, of what he had to say on the social and political issues occurring in America.

Content Analysis

By listening to “Make America Great Again”, you can tell that Tolokonnikova is very politically active and engaged with not only issues residing in Russia, but the social and political unrest that is occurring in the United States today. Throughout her song, she mentions issues regarding immigration, feminism and discrimination by utilizing a specially designed wardrobe of choice and carefully selected samples from Donald Trump. Also, throughout the song Donald Trump (played by Nadya) uses force by hired thugs to enforce his power among its citizens, particularly with immigrants and women. With such phrases placed in the beginning, like the “Speak English Only” label on the Police Station door and a specially selected samples from Donald Trump, the song  illustrates not only the attitude residing in Trump, but reveals the attitude of the United States towards these political and social issues. This revelation is significant because it shows how these issues such as racism, sexism, healthcare and government corruption are still alive today and is conflicting with a significant portion of a marginalized population.

Member of female punk band "Pussy Riot"

Thesis/ My Experience

I really like Nadya Tolokonnikova! I’ve been drumming ever since I was in high school, and one of my favorite of genres to play with is punk rock. Her music in particular is really good, as it not only has really good musical qualities, but it is also engaged politically. Throughout her music, she has challenged the corruption and discrimination practiced by the Russian government and the United States government. Personally, I think a lot of people should take a minute and just listen to one of her songs, or watch one of her performances. Her art works is not only really fun to listen to, but is also great for people to observe and analyze when discussing politics occurring in the real world.

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