On March 4, 2022, shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine, the Russian government unleashed an unprecedented campaign of pressure on Russians opposed to the war. The State Duma hastily passed a law banning public "discreditation" of the actions of the armed forces, effectively outlawing any statements that differ from the official point of view.
The punishment is up to 15 years in prison.
This law is now used as a tool for political repressions in Russia. Anti-war demonstrations are banned. People who publicly show their disapproval risk getting beaten up by the police and losing their jobs. The use of anti-war symbols, the laying of flowers and clothing in the colors of the Ukrainian flag have all become a prosecutable offense.
In parallel, the authorities are blocking independent media and social networks. Journalists are forbidden from calling the war a war. Dozens of publications are blocked in Russia. Anti-war activists are being prosecuted en masse. Over 15000 people have been arrested during anti-war protests and demonstrations across Russia.
This project aims to expose repression of free speech. It also is a way to process accompanying feelings of fear, injustice and helplessness.
This is a series of habitual, everyday objects found in the streets of New York and California.
Innocent and coincidential, they suddenly get charged with political protest if transferred to the setting of modern Russia. Mundane and mostly invisible in normal life, they draw up attention, warning and are forced to get altered or even destroyed in the context of war against free speech.
Their very existence becomes impossible.