Scare ‘Em All: Pussy Riot’s NFT and the Fearless Activism of Nadya Tolokonnikova

Nadya Tolokonnikova isn’t one to be intimidated. She is the face and voice of Russia’s feminist protest art group Pussy Riot, and her fearless activism has recently taken a creative and technological turn with the launch of their NFT collection, “Putin’s Ashes”. People around the globe joined forces to protest Putin’s oppressive regime and send funds to those on the Ukrainian frontlines. In the wake of her successful NFT launch, Russian officials have responded with criminal charges, citing evidence from Nadya’s artwork that is allegedly offensive to their religious sensibilities.

But Nadya simply is not deterred. A veteran artist and activist, she is leveraging decentralized technologies to aid and amplify her impact. In March, she co-founded UnicornDAO to support marginalized artists and groups in Web3, followed by her support of reproductive rights in Texas.

In reality, the Russian government might be right to be scared of Nadya’s activism. Just look at her latest project, “Putin’s Ashes”. Tolokonnikova and Shepard Fairey collaborated to create an open-edition collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to raise funds for Ukrainian troops battling the Russian invasion since February 2022. They opened the collection, hosted on Tezos-based NFT marketplace Objkt, with a protest and performance at the Jeffrey Deitch gallery in Los Angeles.

The NFT focuses on the Russian President and the protest Pussy Riot staged by burning an image of him in August. Each token includes an artwork of Tolokonnikova with Putin on the front that appears to be in flames. All proceeds from the collection will be donated to Ukrainian soldiers, a cause Tolokonnikova is passionate about given her experiences in a Russian jail for over two years for the Pussy Riot protest.

Outside of her collaboration with Shepard Fairey, Tolokonnikova has been dedicated to making the NFT space more diverse. Last year, she started UnicornDAO, a collective to empower women and LGBTQ+ NFT artists while Ukraine is also utilizing NFTs as a crowdfunding method.

Palm Foundation has teamed up with Tolokonnikova to debut an “Activist Master Class” and a feminist art contest with PalmDAO. The class, open to Palm community members in may, will draw upon Nadya’s experiences as an artist and activist and is meant to empower others to advocate for their causes.

Meanwhile, the feminist art contest will select five finalists to be showcased during NFT.NYC and the winner will receive $1,000 and a special display of their work.

Nadya Tolokonnikova truly embodies the spirit of fearless activism. Even when the Russian police detain her friends and family, she won’t back down. As she says, “They threaten us, but we cannot show fear. Glad to see they are scared.”

From the Pussy Riot protest to her collaborations with Shepard Fairey and cryptocurrency causes, Nadya Tolokonnikova uses art as her weapon. Her creative and digital resistant has only grown stronger over time and her NFT collections and projects will continue to have an impact for as long as Putin remains in power.

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Chris Griffin
Chris has had a career as an advisor to the tech industry, incubating start-ups in the tech industry. Welcoming Chris to contribute his expertise covering the latest things he sees in blockchain