“Shake your fist for the Russian kiss” are some of the lyrics featured in the protest disco song “Russian Kiss” launched by pop artist Annie together with the artist Bjarne Melgaard on 7 February, i.e. on the day of the official opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in Russia.
The upcoming song, accompanied by a short film that sees Bjarne Melgaard having his debut as a co-vocalist, is launched in response to the current situation in Russia after the introduction of Putin’s anti-gay laws, and the subject is “the universal right to be able to kiss the one you love – regardless of gender or sexual orientation – wherever you want.” The statement issued at the press conference, which was held at Fritt Ord’s (the Freedom of Expression Foundation, Oslo) premises in Oslo today, also criticises the fact that leading Norwegian politicians have announced their participation at the Olympic Games in Sochi: “In Norway the political top has ignored the pleas for them to stay at home. As a leading nation within winter sports Norway has a unique opportunity to flex its muscles in cases such as this. Being a power to be reckoned with in this context, Norway could have stood up for the fundamental right to demonstrate your affection for the one you love.”
At the press conference Annie described the developments in Russia as horrific and terrifying, relating how she came up with the original idea for the project, and how Bjarne Melgaard – with whom she has collaborated on previous occasions – instantly wanted to contribute a short film.
Melgaard took part in the press conference via Skype – having called for assistance from a person called Omar. He emphasised that this is really Annie’s project, and that he is “only contributing on vocals” – but Melgaard is also the man behind the film accompanying the song, having created it together with the director Richard Kern, a legendary filmmaker, photographer, and pornographer – and also a friend and erstwhile collaborator of Melgaard’s.
When asked by the chair of the press conference, Audun Vinger, whether he believes that artists have a responsibility to get involved in the issue Melgaard stated that he did not, explaining his own participation as follows: “You do it because you meet people, see that things could be different, and comment on that.” He did, however, have a strong response to the complacency of the participants in the Olympic Games:
– It is quite incredible that not a single athlete has withdrawn from the Olympic Games. But I suppose that most of them have so many sponsorships coming out their arse that they have very little inclination to say anything, said Melgaard, skyping from New York.
UPDATE: The song and film Russian Kiss was launched at the website http://russiankiss.org on Friday 7 February. Part of the proceeds from sales of the song will go to the LGBT organisation AllOut.org. Cover versions of the song recorded by various artists worldwide will gradually be added to the project.