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Pussy Riot to Use Art to Promote Better Prison Conditions

Pussy Riot Members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova And Maria Alyokhina
Members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, center left, and Maria Alyokhina, center right, talk to the media during a preview of the nominees for the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore, on Friday. Jan. 17, 2014. Photographer: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Members of Russian feminist art collective Pussy Riot vowed to continue campaigning for human rights and better prison conditions in Russia.

Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who were released from prison on Dec. 23 under an amnesty by Russian President Vladimir Putin, spoke to reporters today in Singapore where they are nominated for an art award.

“We will definitely continue our protests and we will continue political activism to fight for prisoners’ rights,” said Alekhina. New video work will “concentrate on human rights,” she said.

Pussy Riot is among four finalists shortlisted in the digital/video category of the Prudential Eye Awards for emerging Asian artists. The winner of the $20,000 prizes will be announced on Jan. 18 at a black-tie dinner in Singapore.

The Russian group was nominated for its 2012 video “Punk Prayer Mother of God, Put Putin Away,” which led to the imprisonment of three members convicted of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred after they filmed a performance at the country’s main Christian orthodox place of worship.

David Ciliclira, a founder of the Prudential Eye Awards which paid to fly finalists to Singapore, said “contemporary art has taken over from music” as the voice of protest.

Yet the Singaporean government helped facilitate organizing the show exhibiting 20 Asian artists under a very tight timetable, he said.

“Everyone has been very helpful, from the lowest level to the minister of culture,” he said.

Finalists from China, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Australia are competing in the other categories: installation, painting, photography and sculpture.

The exhibition is timed to coincide with Artstage, Singapore’s annual art fair running through to Jan. 19.

The Prudential Eye Awards exhibition, presented by Prudential Corporation Asia, runs from Jan. 17 to Feb. 5 in the Crescent Room, Level 2, Suntec City Mall.

Information: www.prudentialeyeawards.com

To contact the reporter on this story: Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at fbalfour@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at apapuc1@bloomberg.net

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