Pic shows: Police officers arrest Russian artist Petr Pavlenskiy who cut off his ear with a kitchen knife.

A Russian artist who nailed his private parts to the cobblestones of Red Square in the Russian capital of Moscow, sewed up his lips and then wrapped himself in barbed wire has now cut off part of his ear with a kitchen knife.

Petr Pavlenskiy, 29, said his earlier self-mutilation stunts were “a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of modern Russian society”.

In the latest incident he is spotted sitting on a wall completely naked on Serbski street in the Russian capital.

He then pulls out a razor-sharp kitchen knife and slices off part of his ear, causing blood to flow down over his naked body.

Minutes later police arrived and recovered the knife, putting the artist in a headlock and dragging him away.

They said he had been taken to the nearby Botkinsksya hospital to treat his injury.

There was no official word from the artist yet about what his latest performance was about.

But his naked protest when he nailed his private parts to the cobblestones of Red Square had been against political indifference, and the performance prior to that when he sewed his lips up in St Peterburg in 2012 had been to protest against the arrest of the band Pussy Riot.

Pavlensky was born in St Petersburg and studied at art college, which he describes as a “disciplinary institution that aims to make servants out of artists”. He left in 2012, without completing the course.

Pavlensky takes inspiration from a long line of Russian protests, particularly the “Moscow activism” school of the 1990s, and most recently the protest group Voina, who were noted for their outrageous activist art. Voina’s performances included staging a mass orgy inside Moscow’s biological museum the day before the election of Dmitry Medvedev as president in 2008, under a banner that read: “Fuck for the teddy bear heir.”

Later, they painted a giant penis on a St Petersburg bridge, ju

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