Russian Artist Launches Grueling Performance to Protest Mistreatment in Russian Orphanages

Katrin Nenasheva has lugged a metal bed frame on her back for 21 days.

Katrin Nenasheva during her performance. Courtesy of the artist via her Facebook page.
Katrin Nenasheva during her performance. Courtesy of the artist via her Facebook page.

Artist and activist Katrin Nenasheva has recently completed a piece of public performance art, which involved lugging a metal bed frame on her back, to raise awareness of the mistreatment of children in Russian orphanages

The artist is a former employee of two NGOs, whose work focused on supporting orphaned Russian children with learning disabilities, as well as other mental and physical issues. During this time, Nenasheva learned first-hand about the injustice that occurs in many Russian orphanages, which impose frequent mental and physical abuse on children, especially previously disabled ones, who cannot fight back.

Due to the Russian government’s inability to deal with certain social issues, artists and activists, such as Pyotr Pavlensky and Pussy Riot, have taken it into their own hands to raise awareness and inspire change. The mistreatment in Russian orphanages that Nenasheva tackles in her performance is not being dealt with partly because these children do not know how to fight back, and partly due to limited public access granted to these facilities, the Guardian reports.

Katrin Nenasheva during her performance. Courtesy of the artist via her Facebook page.

Katrin Nenasheva during her performance. Courtesy of the artist via her Facebook page.

For 21 days, Nenasheva carried an orphanage bed on walks throughout the city, up flights of stairs, as well as while performing other strenuous physical activities. Other actions part of the piece have included the artist poking her own feet with needles to imitate methods to incapacitate children from moving around freely used by the orphanages, as documented on the artist’s Facebook page.

One of the most striking actions took place in Moscow’s Alexander Garden, where Nenasheva changed the bandages of a young man named Dmitry Zhdanov. Dmitry became disabled after jumping from the fifth floor of a building out of despair and breaking his back, and his legs and back suffered from lesions and infections due to the lack of care provided by the orphanages, the Russian Reader reports.

Katrin Nenasheva during her performance. Courtesy of the artist via her Facebook page.

Katrin Nenasheva during her performance. Courtesy of the artist via her Facebook page.

Nenasheva has not held back from posting graphic images of this performance on social media, as well as photographs of Dmitry’s brother, who was beaten up by other former orphanage wards and whose criminal case against them fell apart under the careless supervision of these facilities.


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