Last week, in tandem with a Facebook birthday celebration for the activist and advocate Ann Khodyreva, a fundraising effort and upcoming charity auction on behalf of Khodyreva’s artist daughter Yulia Tsvetkova was successfully launched. Tsvetkova, of course, has been facing a prolonged legal case and intermittent incarceration in Russia since 2020, and faces six years in prison on charges of distribution of pornography; she’s also been fined in the past for disseminating gay “propaganda.” The effort to raise funds for Tsvetkova was initiated by Dmitry Gutov, a Moscow-born interdisciplinary artist whose work revolves around Soviet aesthetics.
Tsvetkova, a prominent feminist artist and advocate of LGBTQ rights, was charged and placed under house arrest after staging a play for children centered around gender; she also drew the ire of authorities when she was accused of distributing stylized drawings of vaginas on the social media site VKontakte. The charges against the artist stem from the fact that she allegedly violated the Kremlin’s directives when it comes to upholding “traditional family values.”
Last May, Tsvetkova embarked on a hunger strike to draw attention to her case and to protest the ongoing court proceedings. “I realized that I can no longer sit quietly and watch the disgrace that is happening in the country and how my life is being derailed,” Tsvetkova wrote on Facebook at the time. “Would you like to judge me? Please, please. But do it openly. I demand to open my process to the public…I demand that I be able to defend myself by all legal means, and allow a public defender into the process.”
According to Gutov, Russian collectors and artists have already come forward in force to offer their work for the fundraising auction. Vladimir Ovcharenko, the owner of an auction house, has also stepped forward to help organize the sale. “Being prosecuted for art and being threatened with six years in prison for drawings is unacceptable,” Ovcharenko told The Art Newspaper. “If hardcore porn is allowed in Yandex or VKontakte searches, and it is not punishable, why is a defenseless artist being persecuted?”