David Byrne to present Nadya Tolokonnikova with Dynamic Achievements in the Arts Award at American Folk Art Museum Benefit

"It’s an honor for the first public performance of this to be with David Byrne’s introduction, as he has always challenged what it means to be an artist, musician, performer"
7 May 2024

On May 16th in New York, David Byrne will award Nadya Tolokonnikova the Dynamic Achievements in the Arts Award at the American Folk Art Museum benefit. The event will include a performance by Nadya and a conversation with Carmen Hermo from the Brooklyn Museum. Last year, Byrne took part in the benefit with Lonnie Holley, Sun Ra Arkestra, and Suzanne Vega. This year, Nadya will debut her new project, Pussy Riot – Siberia, which she hinted at on social media.

Conceptual performance artist and activist Nadya Tolokonnikova, creator of Pussy Riot, will showcase her new performance project. She describes Pussy Riot as “an expression of primal rage that is also informed by my beginnings in the Moscow Conceptual Underground. I will be channeling that rage into a metaphysical system of punishing sound waves, pure and transcendent. We aim to produce a tower of sound as black and brutal as Norilsk, the Siberian city where I grew up, a tower of sound to reach up into the sky and annihilate the ills of the world. It’s an honor for the first public performance of this to be with David Byrne’s introduction, as he has always challenged what it means to be an artist, musician, performer.”

Pussy Riot members are seen at the roof of the neibour with detention center building during their action “Freedom to protest” to support Russian prominent opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who got 15 days in prison as a punishment for the last opposition rally | Photo by Denis Sinyakov

David Byrne stated that he appreciates Nadya’s bravery, creativity, and willingness to push the boundaries of artistic expression. He emphasized her connection to the values of the American Folk Art Museum and expressed his excitement for the benefit: “I’m a fan of what is often referred to as “outsider art.” Definitions and categories are tricky…This year’s benefit event will feature an amazing and surprising combination of artwork, music, and performance by Nadya Tolokonnikova, the creator of Pussy Riot. Much like the artists in the Museum’s collection, Nadya identifies as a self-taught artist and is not restricted by creative, social and cultural boundaries. She is also politically brave – an all-too-rare quality for many of us.

Nadya is something to aspire to, and I hope you will join me at the event to celebrate her and the American Folk Art Museum on May 16.

Pussy Riot members leave a stage of their new perfomance called “Like a Red Prison” at an oil field in Orenburg region, some 1100 kms outside Moscow. | Photo by Denis Sinyakov

Before the event, Nadya will present her latest artwork, Dark Matter, exclusively to patrons. Proceeds will support the American Folk Art Museum’s educational programs.

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A link to tickets can be found here.
Date: Thursday, May 16th
Location: Society for Ethical Culture (2 W 64th St, New York, NY 10023)

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