Pussy Riot: Nadya Tolokonnikova On Web3 Activism

Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova at Times Square, New York City

On June 9, 2022, Pussy Riot unfurled a 45-foot, pink banner reading “MATRIARCHY NOW” on the Texas state capitol building. This marked the first of the many protests in support of reproductive rights from the Russian feminist protest and performance art group.

Most famous for being jailed in Russia for hooliganism in 2012, the band is now pioneering digital activism. Firstly, with UnicornDAO and now with Proof of Protest, Pussy Riot excels at everything Web3. Now, Pussy Riot’s founding member, Nadya Tolokonnikova shares how and why activism and NFTs go hand in hand.

Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova at Times Square, New York City

Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova. Credit: Nadya/Instagram

After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, UnicornDao, a DAO co-founded by Nadya, has set up several initiatives to support top reproductive rights organisations. The most notable of these initiatives is the LegalAbortion.eth wallet. In essence, this is an Ethereum wallet that allows crypto users to directly donate to seven leading reproductive rights organisations.

This is an important step as most of these organisations do not yet have ETH addresses. As of now, the supported organisations include the Centre for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and Fund Texas Choice, among others. 

Who is Nadya Tolokonnikova?

Nadya (or Nadezhda) Tolokonnikova co-founded the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, in 2011. Apart from this, she is also a performance artist, feminist, and a political activist. Today, Nadya is spearheading activism in the Web3 space.

In March this year, Nadya, along with several crypto OGs, artists, and developers, launched UnicornDAO, a cryptocurrency investment fund. She is also the founder of UkraineDAO,  a fundraising campaign which raised around $7 million for war-torn Ukraine.

During a Twitter spaces session with the Lens Protocol team, Nadya Tolokonnikova said, “I entered the crypto world early last year, because I wanted to lead the crypto community towards activism and social justice. There are so many socially-conscious crypto people who want to help and use blockchain technology, DAOs, and NFTs for a good cause and fight against injustice.”

What is UnicornDAO?

Unicorn DAO is a collective that both supports and showcases female identifying, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ artists. They aim to make a safe space for new and existing NFT artists, focusing on their principles of inclusivity and diversity. But, they also like to have fun too, stating “fishnets, pink plush bondage unicorns and fake lashes” as one of their core values.

UnicornDAO was founded on the mission to redistribute wealth and visibility in order to create equality for women-identified and LGBTQ+ people,” Nadya Tolokonnikova said. “The DAO aims to diversify web3 by helping market and share NFTs from female, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ artists”.

Pussy Riot’s Proof of Protest NFT collection featuring bottled feminism

Pussy Riot’s Proof of Protest NFT collection dropped this month.

About Pussy Riot’s Proof of Protest NFT collection 

More recently, Pussy Riot launched “Proof of Protest”, a limited edition NFT collection. The collection was minted exclusively on Lens Protocol, with all proceeds from the sale going to the LegalAbortion.eth wallet. 

Created in collaboration with artist Ksti Hu, the collection dropped on July 7 and lasted only 24 hours. The NFT art depicts bottles of feminism and follows on the footstep of several other statement pieces from Pussy Riot in the past. The list includes “Virgin Mary, Please Become a Feminist” and “Drink My Blood”, to name a few.

“We live in a world where almost everything is for sale,” Nadya Tolokonnikova said during the collection’s launch. “And now you can get it at discount when you buy more than 1 Raw Extra Virgin bottle of Feminism. Your voice is yours, even though your womb is not (in America). No government, no corporation can take that away from you.”

Web3 Activism: How To Make A Change With NFTs

Apparently, once Pussy Riot saw the success of UkraineDAO, they “saw the way that Web3 collectively united people who wanted to help and fight for social justice.”

“We were enraged by the overturn of Roe v. Wade, and knew we had to create the LegalAbortion.eth wallet for people to send safe and secure donations to women’s reproductive rights organizations,” Nadya added. “Partnering with Lens Protocol has made launching NFTs and collecting funds for the wallet as an artist incredibly easy and empowering, especially knowing that our voices are censorship-resistant in Web3 when using blockchain technology.”

In what ways can Web3 champion feminism? 

“We recognize NFTs as the beginning of one of the most impactful movements in the history of modern art,” Nadya said. “According to a report in late 2021 by ArtTactic, only 5% of NFT sales were by female-identified artists. The disruptive aspect of web3 can drastically change these stats, and UnicornDAO aims to help more people acquire art created by women, non-binary and LGBTQ+ people. It is not a donation, but an investment that will grow in value.”

“As more women are continuing to enter the space while Web3 grows, community is extremely important. The Lens community welcomes all artists, activists, and web3 participants to find their place and gives them opportunities to create real impact with their works.”

Matriarchy Now banner with Pussy Riot members standing in front

“MATRIARCHY NOW” banner on the Texas state capitol. Credit: Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot’s Nadya on Roe V. Wade 

Almost a decade after their arrest by the Russian authorities, Pussy Riot explained how social movements, protests, and activism have evolved. When asked about the recent Roe V. Wade bill in the US, they only expressed anguish.

What’s happening right now to women’s rights in the United States is very scary, but now we have new, innovative ways of reaching all kinds of people who want to participate in protest whether it’s through web3, NFTs, or music,” Nadya added.

Pussy Riot’s upcoming mixtape: Matriarchy Now

Of course, Pussy Riot also have their upcoming new mixtape: Matriarchy Now. It will arrive on August 5, featuring Tove Lo as an executive producer. iLoveMakonnen also features on on the new song “Plastic”. And, the music video is already available to watch and stream.

Nadya Tolokonnikova explained, “We believe that body autonomy is a pillar of modern civilization, and this mixtape reflects our dedication to continue fighting for women’s rights.”

About Pussy Riot’s NFT partner, Lens Protocol

Lens Protocol is an open-source tech stack on the Polygon blockchain for building decentralized social applications. Essentially, Lens enables creators to easily mint NFTs hassle-free. Moreover, collectors can directly buy the NFTs from apps built on Lens, including Lenster, a decentralized microblogging and social networking service.

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