‘Nanodemonstrations’ as Media Events: Networked Forms of the Russian Protest Movement
‘Nanodemonstrations’ first became part of the Russian protest campaign for fair elections in 2012. Originating in the northern town of Apatity, a wave of ‘doll protests’ – demonstrations and other citizen actions which were staged by using lego dolls and soft toys – swept over many Russian cities. Those that took place in the Siberian city of Barnaul appeared in the Forbes Magazine list of ‘the 12 loudest art protest actions in Russia’. The Barnaul activists decided to abandon the idea of traditional ‘human’ protests because earlier attempts to organize mass demonstrations had not been sanctioned by the local authorities. Replacing humans, toys acted as Latour’s actants, with nanodemonstrations offering a perfect example of ‘When things strike back’ (Latour 2000). The symbolic protest, which involved occupying minimal urban public space, quickly spilled over into virtual space and became a media event. The media, including social media, worked as a multiplier of not only visual and verbal representations of the nanodemonstration as a new form of protest but of the performance itself. The staging of nanodemonstrations, now organized as media events, soon spread to many Russian cities. Focusing on the mutual transformations of the real and the virtual, or their fusion, which when replicated manifold recalls Jean Baudrillard ҆s notion of ‘simulacrum’, this article will examine potential theoretical models and frameworks that can be deployed to analyze similar mediatized and theatrical forms of civil resistance.