This Balaclava Is Too Hot

“This Balaclava Is Too Hot” is a narrative account of the author’s experiences presenting material in public forums on the relationship between faith, feminism, and aesthetics in the work of Pussy Riot. While US audiences have tended to sympathize with the anti-Putin political position of the group, there has been some resistance to their choice to stage an action within a house of worship (the Cathedral of Christ the Savior)—and even more resistance, it seems, to an implication that there is aesthetic value in their musical performance. This piece explores all of these questions through the author’s attempts to replicate both the music and the costuming of Pussy Riot, and through the theorizations of music/antimusic and masking/unmasking of various political theorists, including the members of Pussy Riot themselves.

Barbara Browning