Vincent Van Gogh famously cut off his ear in a fit of depression (or perhaps lost it in a fight with Paul Gauguin). A Russian performance artist has done the same as an act of political protest. The Guardian is reporting that "Pyotr Pavlensky, a St. Petersburg-based performance artist, climbed naked on to the roof of the Serbsky psychiatric centre in Moscow on Sunday and cut off his right earlobe with a large kitchen knife." Pavlensky made a statement on his wife's Facebook page that the act was in protest at the Russian government's practice of forced psychiatric treatment on dissidents. “Armed with psychiatric diagnoses, the bureaucrat in a white lab coat cuts off from society those pieces that prevent him from establishing a monolithic dictate of a single, mandatory norm for everyone.” The Serbsky centre "is infamous for giving questionable diagnoses to many of the dissidents who were confined to psychiatric wards in the USSR," according to the Guardian. "In April, a protester in a demonstration in Bolotnaya Square, Mikhail Kosenko, was sentenced to indefinite psychiatric treatment after the Serbsky centre declared him insane, a decision that Amnesty International condemned as a return to that Soviet-era practice."
This is not the first act of public body-mutilation that Pavlensky has performed. He has sewn his lips shut in support of Pussy Riot, wrapped himself naked in barbed wire outside the St. Peterbsurg Legislature, and nailed his scrotum to the cobblestones in Red Square as “a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of modern Russian society.”
[Check out the "Most Interesting Finds" on Amazon ]