Guardian Watch, latest
Comments 36

Jonathan Jones in the Guardian tells us arson is ok when you do it to Russians


Pyotr Pavlesnky standing proudly in front of his “superbly well-aimed piece of political art.” AKA a door to a public building he just set on fire

The Guardian’s “Let’s Hate Russia” crusade, like the old Windmill Theatre, never closes. It’s a 24/7 op and needs a constant supply of attack pieces to keep those fires of division and racism stoked. So it’s not surprising a lot of barrel-scraping has to be done, and in fact sometimes the results can be so unintentionally self-parodying they become almost an art form all their own.

I hope someone somewhere is keeping a scrapbook of the best examples, as it would be a shame if posterity didn’t get to appreciate the 21st Century Graun, and its staffers as the fine specimens of journalistic excellence they really are.

Just this week we’ve had…

i) The blockbuster saga of that majestically impartial organ, the World Anti-Doping Association acting as the lame mouthpiece of US foreign policy announcing the results of its serious and impartial enquiry into uniquely corrupt Russian doping practises;

ii) A questionable “amateur video” of an alleged Russian bombing of a hospital in Sarmin (US propaganda is not subtle, ever since it was revealed to have deliberately bombed a hospital in Kunduz it’s done nothing but plant stories saying “oh yeah, well Russia bombs like hundreds of hospitals!”). Very oddly this video was first published as a fragment on October 22, with the qualifying caption “video footage posted to social media, purporting to show an alleged Russian airstrike…”. This time round those qualifiers have disappeared (we will probably return to this story).

iii) Ash Carter telling us all that the wonderful world peace we’ve been enjoying lately is now in danger since Russia started bombing terrorists.

Jonathan Jones...and his shirt

Jonathan Jones…and his shirt

And yesterday appeared this truly vintage piece from alleged art critic, Jonathan Jones.

It doesn’t help his credibility that JJ looks like Petro Poroshenko’s slightly less bloated, sartorially-challeneged brother, but we’ll leave that to one side as being not germane to the issue. And his article needs no help when it comes to revealing the author as an idiot hack, prepared to put his name to just about any load of tripe for a pay check and a chance to see his piccy in a national daily.

Jones’ current piece is about a Russian “artist” called Pyotr Pavlensky, who became a hero for western media after nailing his scrotum to the floor in Red Square (seriously, you can read all about it in the Guardian, in a piece called Why I nailed my scrotum to Red Square).


As a result of this brilliantly seditious act Pyotr was given a blanket and some antibiotics, de-nailed and sent home. Which, of course, just proves that Russia is, in Pavlensky’s words, “turning into a big prison and a police state.” In free societies you see, people can nail their scrotums to public walkways and sit there for as long as they want. I’m not sure, but I think there’s even an amendment to that effect in the US Constitution.

Jonathan Jones is, predictably, a huge fan of this guy (or is paid to pretend he is), and he happily puts his place in art history on the line to go on record saying Pavlensky’s latest masterpiece – setting fire to the door of the Lubyanka Building in Moscow – is just fan-freaking-tastic. In fact he can’t believe the Russian police have taken such a relentlessly negative view….

Pavlensky has been charged with “hooliganism” – yet this is a superbly well-aimed piece of political art.

So, can this be right? Is JJ telling us he thinks arson is…ok?

Normally, setting fire to a building would not win my approval.

Oh, good…because it really seemed as if it would…

Someone might get hurt.

Quite. Which is probably why it tends to be widely discouraged as a means of expression.

And this is a historic front door, on a historic building.

Exactly. So, remind me again, why is it ok to set it on fire…?

In assaulting the FSB headquarters, Pavlensky has drawn attention to an architecture of terror. This building is a living symbol of all that has gone wrong in Russia since the 1990s.

Ah. I see. Light of a sort is dawning. You are saying it’s ok to burn down parts of public buildings if by so doing you are “draw[ing] attention to an ‘architecture of terror'”? Arson becomes completely legitimate, in other words, provided you burn down a place that happens to be a “living symbol of all that has gone wrong in [insert name of country here] since the 1990s” ?

And what if in this process ‘someone gets hurt”, as you say? Or dies? You seem to be implying this would just be collateral damage in pursuit of artistic excellence. Would you care to elaborate on that?

And how about the GCHQ building? MI5 and and MI6? The NSA HQ? The CIA? The FBI? The US Marines? Congress? The Houses of Parliament? The Rada? Most would agree they are all “living symbols of all that has gone wrong” in the countries that house them. So, are they fair game for arson too?

I’m assuming you will say quite a firm “no” here, am I correct? I assume you will say that’s different, and maybe even invoke “Whatboutery” that faithful friend of sophists everywhere. I’m fairly sure if some peace activist nailed his scrotum to Tony Blair or set fire to MI6’s front door you probably would not be cheering on this marvellous example of “political art”?

Yes. Thought so.

But the real reason for JJ’s piece is contained in the penultimate para. Here, half-heartedly expressed maybe, you will find the talking point he’s been paid handsomely to sell, and which he’s tried his best to camouflage and rationalise with all this embarrassing, pseudo-art-critiqueing (it makes it easier to take the money if you can convince yourself you’re saying something remotely connected to your supposed specialty).

This is the real message du jour:

It [the fact Lubyanka still exists] puts our own fears of spies (or lack of such fears) into perspective. In Britain the intelligence services are accused of intruding on privacy. In Russia they are suspected of political murder.

I trust you all take due note, oh newly awakening Guardian-reading masses? JJ’s bosses want you to think how much worse things could be, and go back to sleep.

Do we even need to break down this pathetic offering? Do we need to point out the clumsily dishonest use of language? That British security forces are not “accused of intruding on privacy”, they are proven to do it, continuously and persistently. That being “suspected of political murder” means only as much as the identity of those doing the “suspecting” – a detail JJ carefully leaves out. That, contrary to his lie-by-omission- point, the British security services are themselves not only “suspected” of political murder, but openly accused of it.

No, let’s not bother. This is a Minitrue hit piece by a hired hack, devoid of ethics or talent, celebrating another hired hack, paid to nail his genitals to the pavement.

History will know well enough how to deal with them both.


  1. Just been banned permanently from Guerrdian’s CIF because of a Jonathon Jones article. This time a sycophantic, gushing piece of drivel about Tracey Emin marrying a rock in which he compares this artistic act to the art of Michelangelo. My crime was to politely ask if the article had been sponsored by Poju Zabludowicz. My comment was deleted in seconds so I posted another similar comment; again deleted in seconds – despite many comments from others being suitably rude and abusive (as such an article deserved). Lastly I posted that the rock might be a metaphor for Poju Zabludowicz; again removed in seconds and banned from CIF. I can only conclude I hit a raw nerve and Jonathon Jones really is a shill for the Zionist billionaire Zabludowicz (just as Emin is too). Reading the above article makes this seem more likely – I missed it originally; can’t say I find Jones’ scribblings to be particulaly engaging.

    • tezla valve says

      The Guardian is an invaluable resource for finding out what ‘They’ want us to think. Can we nail this bollocks? Fortunately, Gaby Hinsliff doesn’t like us drawing our own conclusions. ATTENTION SCUM!

      “Don’t mock the rock – Tracey Emin’s wedding is a message to single women.”
      (No laughing at the back.)

      “Tracey Emin has married her rock. This isn’t a metaphor by the way”
      “unlike a less reliable bridegroom”
      “(the bride wore her father’s white shroud, apparently)”
      “Emin made her name exploring taboo aspects of female sexuality – promiscuity, forbidden desire, rape, abortion”
      “the most dangerously provocative idea of the lot, namely the possibility of building a life without a man at it’s centre.”
      … blah blah feminist film revue…
      …blah blah book plug…
      “the thing that throughout a woman’s life ‘may sustain and support you, bouy your spirits and engage your mind… [offering] commitment, attachment, chemistry and connection’, she isn’t talking about love. She’s talking about work.”
      “subliminal message to women, meanwhile, has all too often been that you can’t have both husband and career”
      …blah blah reasonable comments interspersed with Fabian Mind Kontrol…blah.


      Here Ms. Emin performs a lesser magick, of sorts. She is an Artist in the alchemical sense. Having found the Philosopher’s Stone, she succeeds in turning base consciousness into gold. This isn’t a metaphor by the way. I’m saying she’s a fucking witch.

      Below the line:

      “Celebrating devoting your life to capitalism as if it’s a victory over being sustained by mere love; an example of how identity politics have driven sections of the left mad.”


      “What I get from the story is that a lot of babies are not being made, from the singles data given. It looks like the future UK will have something in common with today’s Germany, begging people to come from wherever to keep the economy going.”

      cynicalshrink (responding to why he finds the article misandrist)

      “Do you really need to ask? The Guardian is pushing a message that women SHOULD aspire to live their lives without men. The very idea that a woman can MARRY an inanimate piece of stone is an attack on the value of maleness. You have to read rage Guardian overall, there is a pattern of articles about gender, identity etc. that promotes a version of life for women that positively excludes men.”

      The idea that Guardian feminism is being used as a divide and rule tactic appears to be contradicted by the constant product placement for casual sex app. ‘Tinder.’ Occasionally, an article critical of ‘Tinder’ appears, but even then, it is implied that using the app. is everyday behaviour. There is no such thing as bad publicity, as the unconscious mind does not recognise negatives. This is not exploited by Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Does promiscuity promote children, family and fidelity? I doubt it. So does this commenter:


      “…And of all the impediments to a good and lasting relationship between a man and a woman, women’s so called ‘sexual liberation’ has to be the worst of them all – men are hard-wired not to trust women who play around sexually whether feminists think that’s fair or not, the vast majority of men cannot cope with it, unless they merely see the woman they are involved with as purely a sexual conquest and have got no real feelings for her, and no intention of forming a lasting relationship with her.”

      The Statue of Liberty is the Whore of Mystery Babylon a.k.a. Isis. Remember, ‘They’ hate love, so peace and love y’all. climbs onto hobby-horse. doffs tinfoil Stetson and rides off into sunset.
      This isn’t a metaphor by the way.

  2. What Jonathan Jones actually knows about art could be written on a pimple on Tracy Emin’s arse. Along with the other middle-class wanker John Harris, who pretends to be politically correct, but isn’t above drunkenly swearing `fucking bitch’ down the phone at women who stand up to him. Breaking News: The Guardian has just printed a Christmas Quiz from Mr Hannigan head honcho at GCHQ.! Freaking unbelievable!! It’s not April 1st btw.

  3. Jonathan Jones, the art critic, wrote an anti Corbyn article in the Guardian during the leadership ballot, in which he compared the promise and vision of Corbyn and team’s manifesto (which he didn’t quote) to historic totalitarianism, filtered through the ‘naive’ recollection of his previous idealism as a student. It was a bad article, one in which it was obvious that he had no conviction other than that he would be paid well and keep favour with the overwhelming editorial mission.
    From an artistic point of view these performances stink of narcissistic self promotion, it’s bad art disguised as radical gesture.

  4. Jamie Stewart says

    Much as I hat Jonathan Jones (and I do because I have agreed with almost nothing that he’s written), I don’t think that burning the KGB/FSB front door is a bad piece of art. I am opposed to the relentless anti-Russia sentiments of the newspapers, but I think the commentators here shouldn’t kid themselves that Putin’s Russia is a free state to the same extent as the UK with genuine rule of law. Much as I hate politics here, we do normally hold our politicians to account eventually, whereas in Russia unfortunately-timed murders seem to prevent genuine opposition to Putin, so whilst I would never recommend meddling with Russia’s internal affairs, I would be wary about whitewashing Putin so as to oppose the zealous anti-Russia brigade. Whilst this artist has done risky things, they were never liking to cause injury to others, even the burning of the door to the FSB! You may think he’s a political plonker, but that doesn’t mean he’s dangerous…

    • Oh yes we hold to account Tony Blair War Criminal, Lord Jenner the child rapist, every politician who took backhanders for enabling private contracts on NHS services. David Cameron who disappeared the Kengate tapes. We have armed snipers above a peaceful demonstration, peaceful demonstrators being pounced and brutalised by the police, huntsmen who mow down women with their half ton horse evading prosecution. Life is just peachy in the UK as long as you don’t dissent. At least in Russia you are allowed to demonstrate outside the Kremlin without snipers targeting you from rooftops above. So I think I’ll go and burn down the British Embassy door over in Russia, which of course will be fine with everyone, won’t it?

    • This is very transparent and inept concern trolling, Jamie. Try to be a tad more subtle in future.

  5. Pingback: Jonathan Jones in the Guardian tells us arson is ok when you do it to Russians | The shrinkinglobe

  6. Davide says

    Not shocked that the Guardian applauds the spread of bourgeois liberal performance “art” to Russia. What went wrong in the 1990s in Russia was robber capitalism – what a shame that glorious period in Russian history ended. I will be the last person to say that Putin’s government is angelic and wonderful and perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what existed in Yeltsin’s Russia.

  7. Pingback: Guardian Art Critic Tells us Arson Is OK When It's in Russia | Timber Exec

  8. Pingback: Jonathan Jones in the Guardian tells us arson is ok when you do it to Russians | wgrovedotnet

  9. edweirdo says

    I’ve long nursed a contemptuous disdain for Mr Jones, who strikes me as peculiarly ill-suited to be a critic, so bereft is he of any discernible critical faculty. I suppose this makes him ideal as a cheerleader for a vacuous idiot like Tracey Emin, but he seems increasingly to think his remit runs to grown-up subjects, at which he is even more spectacularly clueless than the alleged value of a Modigliani.

    • Eric_B says

      He’s an utter cock. He indeed thinks the trash producers Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin are the best artists ever.

      I suspect history will beg to differ.

    • Shatnersrug says

      I find myself wondering if Yewtree might have sometime on JJ and he’s being blackmailed by the Secret services, don’t you?

      He’s always been a crap art critic but the stuff he’s produced since the summer has been absolutely risible, and to be honest they read like a man under duress.

  10. Jennifer Hor says

    ” … In Britain the intelligence services are accused of intruding on privacy. In Russia they are suspected of political murder …”

    My remark on the Komment Macht Frei forum was hit for six into the stands by the moderators for daring to suggest that the families of Jean Charles de Menezes and Mark Duggan might beg to differ.

    Komment Macht Frei indeed!

    • Eric_B says

      Britain ran a huge world empire running other people’s countries who didn’t want to be run by Britain by never killing anyone ever, especially not by clandestine means.

      • Chris the Greatly Dismayed says

        Yep. By the justification in this article there is plenty to burn down in the name of art. (Australia regularly catches fire by itself anyway…..that and all the arsonist farmers and fire service volunteers….)

  11. Jennifer Hor says

    Gosh, BC is right, JJ really does look like PP’s kid brother. All he needs is the fake army fatigues, the bouffant hairstyle and the posturing and they’d be like two peas in a pod.

    I’ll remember that when the day finally arrives when JJ is promoted to Senior Art Critic Editor of KyivPost.

  12. Eric_B says

    Like how about this?

    When we are about to invade or attack another country, the BBC reporter tells us about all the previous times the UK has attacked or invaded that country?

    That would be some useful background, wouldn’t it?

    Do we get that from the BBC? No we don’t.

  13. irishinrussia says

    Dear sirs/madams, thank you for your article and website. I am currently on pre moderation at cif due to making pretty much the points made in this article here, plus getting in to a discussion as to whether or not the British Empire’s crimes were comparable to those of the USSR and questioning why it is fair, as many on Cif and Guardian HQ seem to believe, to blame modern Russia for historical Russian/Soviet crimes, yet completely irrelevant and unfair to blame the UK of today for crimes of the past. I then posted to someone responding to me that I could not counter their point as I was being censored. Apparently this discussion and my posts, which in no way whatsoever breached what Cifs rules and community standards are claimed to be, was completely unacceptable. I am sure this is a familiar story for people here.

    • Eric_B says

      yes, pointing out previous crimes of the British Empire is a problem on the Guardian, especially when that might help us understand why some countries might not view us positively.

      On The Guardian and the BBC news, Britain doesnt really have a past in terms of invading and colonising foreign countries.

      Britain is just a modern, hip nation trying to help other countries out by bombing them, because we believe in gay rights, or womens’ rights, or something.

      • Shatnersrug says

        I don’t think they are in charge on cif anymore, I think the GCHQ are, or at least are given full control of threads on “sensitive” issues.

        This is in the wake of Snowden. They have had their wings clipped.

        think about the unashamed racism you see going unmodded now – that really was never the case BS(Before Snowden)

    • You won’t find many comments on the Guardian that mention the dreaded word censorship pre mod or no . As for the gender issue.. We all know rampant homophobia is endemic in western Ukraine and the far right. it’s in plain sight ,Try revealing it in the Guardian ..They are very selective about who they target in their faux gender crusade.. Revealing their breathtaking hypocrisy over the gender question will see you banned .from CIF. The BBC is another of their pet obsessions, Danny Cohen runs the show as far as the beeb are concerned, i’m sure you can work that out
      To get off pre mod, choose as non a controversial thread as you can find on CIF. Put as many non controversial comments as possible on that thread, and they’ll release you after a couple of days
      You cannot really debate properly or argue on pre mod… But.TBH due to the amount of people who’ve been banned any thread regarding Ukraine Russia Syria is just infested with a very low standard of troll, their go to words are PUTINBOT ASSADIST

  14. Eric_B says

    I was hoping there would be an article about this.

    What a criminal lunatic Jonathan jones is, endorsing arson or possibly terrorism.

    how can this be acceptable in a respectable newspaper?

  15. Francis says

    Our secret service is ‘accused’ of invading people’s privacy. They’re not ‘accused’ of having enabled the invasion of a sovereign state, they’re ‘known’ to have done so, leading to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of deaths. Slightly beats the FSB since 1990. What to do? Fortunately I’m an artist, so I will be seriously considering suggesting Jonathan Jones nail his scrotum to Legoland, then set it on fire, his scrotum, of course, I certainly don’t approve of arson, I’m more of a performance art kinda guy.

  16. Seamus Padraig says

    I like what Nina Kouprianova (Nina Byzantina) had to say about this Pavlensky character:

    “Being a political prisoner in today’s Russia is really hard, but he keeps trying and trying. The same attention whore, who previously nailed his ‘manly parts’ to the Red Square and then ripped off Van Gogh-lite by cutting his earlobe, set the doors of the Federal Security Building (former KGB HQ) on fire, but only got detained for hooliganism.”

    “I realize that free advertising is what these characters want, but I’m posting this anyway because I have such disdain for these people, and not even (not just) for their shallow politics. I remember these ‘misunderstood arteeeests’ from, well, art school. I’d slave on an assigned drawing for a hundred hours, they’d splash paint the night before all Jackson Pollock-y and claim some brilliant theory.

    “Of course, in today’s world it’s harder and harder to get attention in the art world, when everything has been done using every disgusting method and every bodily fluid, so he got into anti-Kremlin politics. Sure way to sell himself just like his buddies, Pussy Riot. He, too, wants to take selfies with Hillary Clinton and hang out at the European Parliament.”

  17. Ha. I believe I read somewhere recently that between 2 and 3 thousand people have been killed – nay, murdered – just by drone strikes, more or less openly, in the last few years.

    All for the good cause, obviously, no worries, nothing to see here. Look over there – those bastards, we suspect them!

  18. I thought I’d try my hand at sub-editing:

    “Normally, nailing someone’s testicles to the pavement would not win my aesthetic approval. Someone might get hurt. And this is a supposedly serious column in an allegedly historic newspaper. However, by insulting the intelligence of an internet-savvy readership that no longer relies on puffed-up self-appointed panjandrums to interpret the World for them, Jonathan Jones has drawn attention to an architecture of gross deception. This newspaper is a living symbol of all that has gone wrong in journalism since the 1990s.”

    Makes much more sense….

  19. I got my comment deleted for drawing a comparison with the 2000 Rocket attack on the MI6 building, I merely suggested that the rocket attack in comparison was aesthetically superior and possibly worth of a Turner prize.

    Not quite sure how that breached the community guidelines.

  20. Roger says

    More artistic than boring old nails. Stick JJ’s bollocks to the loo seat with super-glue. Something he wouldn’t forget in a hurry.

  21. Putin jailed some of the Worst of their Oligarchy who turned Russia into a living hell hole,, one of them being the Guardians all time hero Mikhail Khodorkovsky amongst others , the rest he brought to heel

    Strange is it not in the west apparently in the eyes of the law we are all deemed equal
    2 Legs good 4 legs better. Some people are more equal than others comes to mind

    Pity we never jailed our oligarchy .They stole billions by gambling it away we punish them by throwing more taxpayers money at them

    • Chris the Greatly Dismayed says

      Too true. The British Commonwealth of Corruption.

      • You want to see who the movers and shakers are in UK Political circles are check out this feed The UK the establishment is riddled with high ranking perverts who put idiots like Cameron and his ilk into positions of power as a means of protection,, virtually anybody who’se anybody is owned From royalty/justice. police. military. masonic lodges Lliterally the scum of the earth
        Similar in the US they are all owned

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole