France Charges Dissident Artist Pyotr Pavlensky With Invasion of Privacy for Leaking a Paris Politician’s Sex Tape

Pavlensky has a history of protest performance art.

Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky in November 2015. Photo by Sergei Savostyanov via Getty Images.

Dissident Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky, 35, is back in international headlines—and back in trouble with the law. He is facing charges of invasion of privacy for leaking a sex tape of Parisian mayoral candidate Benjamin Griveaux. The politician, a member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party La République En Marche, has since dropped out of the race.

“[Griveaux] is someone who constantly brings up family values, who says he wants to be the mayor of families and always cites his wife and children as an example. But he is doing the opposite,” Pavlensky told French paper Libération.

Pavlensky and his girlfriend, Alexandra de Taddeo, have been released by French authorities after being charged with invasion of privacy and publishing images of a sexual nature without consent, according to Radio Free Europe. Pavlensky, who is also reportedly under investigation in connection with a New Year’s Eve knife fight, is currently under judicial supervision. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Artnet News.

The artist uploaded the incriminating video to a new website he created for “political porn” last week. Griveaux allegedly sent the video to de Taddeo, with whom he had a relationship before she began dating Pavlensky, in May 2018; she denies being involved with disseminating the footage online.

Pyotr Pavlensky in front of the headquarters of the FSB security service in Moscow, shortly after setting it on fire. Photo courtesy NIGINA BEROEVA/AFP/Getty Images.

“My family does not deserve this. No one should ever be subjected to such abuse,” Griveaux told AFP. Agnes Buzyn, the country’s former health minister, is now taking his place on the ballot.

Pavlensky first rose to prominence in 2012, when he protested the incarceration of Pussy Riot by sewing his lips shut outside St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral. Other acts of self-mutilation include famously nailing his scrotum to the cobblestones of Red Square in Moscow in 2013, and cutting off his own earlobe in 2014.

The artist sought political asylum in France in 2017, after a Russian actress accused him of sexual assault. Pavlensky claimed that the complaint against him was politically motivated. France granted asylum to the artist and his then-partner, Oksana Shalygina, and their two children in May 2017. That October, the couple was arrested for setting fire to the Banque de France building in Paris as a performance art piece.

Pyotr Pavlensky and Oksana Shalygina in 2017 in Paris. Photo by Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images.

Pyotr Pavlensky and Oksana Shalygina in 2017 in Paris. Photo by Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images.

This wasn’t the first time Pavlensky got into trouble for setting a building aflame. He previously ignited the door of Russia’s Federal Security Service in Moscow in a controversial piece that got him arrestedbeaten by prison guards, placed in a mental health facility, and convicted of vandalism. In France, Pavlensky received a two-year suspended sentence and one year’s jail sentence, as well as an approximately $25,000 fine, but was released for time served. 

Some French lawmakers are now calling for the country to revoke his asylum, reports Artforum. If that were to happen, Pavlensky has said he plans to move to another country in Europe.


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