23 June 2022

Silence féminin: Introduction

Natasha Chychasova
Silence féminin: Introduction

Silence féminin is a series of texts developed by 12 Ukrainian artist-researchers during a two-year long laboratory (2020-2022) organized by Natasha Chychasova, centered on breaking the pattern of silence. Originally intended to be published as a printed zine, disrupted by the escalation of the Russian war on Ukraine, the complete works instead appear now in BLOK as a four-part cycle:

 

I: Linguo-speechlessness

II: Shackled by Writing and Theory

III: Nobody Talks About This

IV: Bedtime Stories

 

 

All texts have been translated by Yustyna Kravchuk with the exception of “Black Sun” by Teta Tsybulnyk, this has been translated by the author.

 

All texts have been edited by Katie Zazenski

 

 


 

Silence féminin

Natasha Chychasova

 

Is there a language for war? I ask myself this question almost every day. On the one hand, I can use descriptors for the events that happen around me: bloody, ruthless, not human, full of tears, PTSD and broken lives, or I could describe my personal experience. But are the words and terminologies relevant? More and more often it seems to me that the war is taking away language because any attempts to describe it seem insignificant and inappropriate. I look for words and I can’t find them. Language seems to stand aside as an observer, it does not belong to me. However, I can’t remain silent, because silence is sometimes even more deadly than talking clumsily. Silence creates a dangerous void of (non) existence, which can be filled with anything convenient, a picture of a peaceful world. Therefore, writing, no matter how inadequate it may seem, is a way to fill the void so that it cannot be ignored or overlooked or co-opted.

 

This cycle of texts, Silence féminin, is the (pre-war, still in-progress) result of laboratory work by a circle of like-minded Ukrainian women and non-binary artists who were looking for ways to re-appropriate their language, to break the cycle of silence. Together we thought about how to talk about traumatic experiences, shame, limitations of the theoretical apparatus, and ways to overcome them. We read these subsequently written texts aloud to each other and it was like a fairy tale where we finally had a  voice. Before the New Year of 2022, our group came together to celebrate the concluding year as we talked and read together. We had dreams and plans that disappeared in a circle of pain shortly thereafter, with the commencement of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. Almost all participants were forced to leave the country, the ones who stayed have become volunteers for relief efforts. But, as before, writing is something that allows us to support each other and to not lose our voice wherever we are. These texts are a reminder of who we are, where we have found ourselves, and what we are moving forward with, no matter how uncertain it may be. Through these texts, each of us explores ourselves, manifesting fragility, vulnerability, anger, and pain that cannot be taken away from us or turned off like a radio. This process of self-exploration is not complete, but rather a starting point from where the sound of our voices provides relief and resistance. And, in the words of Ellen Cixous: “Write! The writing is made for you, you for yourself; your body is yours, take it.”




ARTIST BIOS

Uliana Bychenkova, artist, curator, designer, researcher. Born in 1986 in Kerch, I studied at the Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts in the Department of Graphics (2011); the Higher Academic School of Graphic Design (2014); the Rodchenko School of Photography and Multimedia (2015); and the School of Engaged Art by Chto Delat? (“What Is to Be Done?”) group (2017). I also participated in the interdisciplinary summer school of theory and practice of art research in Vilnius (2014). In 2020 I studied at the Halyna Rymbu f-writing course. 

In my art, by clarifying and reapprpopriating, I focus on practical issues from the standpoint of feminist revision: power dispositions in urban space, the asymmetry of symbolic power in the professional field and the status of decorative arts. As methods, I practice feminist art research, strategic imagination and tactical inventions, which are formalized with the help of various mediums, such as self-publishing, sound performance, ceramic objects, conceptual terms, etc.  and am a participant and initiator of numerous creative associations. In 2017, as part of the U, N, A collective, I co-curated the exhibition project SIGN. Ukrainian Trademarks of the 1960–80s, and in 2019, co-edited the design and research publication of the same name. In 2020, I co-organized a reading group for artists and theorists called “The Reader.” 

I am currently living and working in Kyiv.



Natasha Chychasova, curator, researcher, author. I was born in Donetsk, I live and work in Kyiv. I graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv with a degree in Art History and mainly work with industrial heritage issues and feminism studies. I believe that writing is a powerful tool for feminist solidarity and expression of personal experience. I am a fan of imperfections and roughness, as I see incredible beauty in them. 

 

 

Lusia Ivanova (b. 1989) is a curator and artist. Born in Dnipropetrovsk, I currently live and work in Kyiv. I work mainly with painting and drawing, as well as with sculptural objects, environment, video, photos, textiles. I studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, Kyiv (V.I. Gurin’s class, majoring in Easel Painting). I attended contemporary art courses at the School of Visual Communication (SVC). I have participated in numerous exhibitions, both solo and group: MORE (The Naked Room, Kyiv, 2021), Mac Toob (the White World center for contemporary art, Kyiv, 2016), So, What About the Mammoth? Mohrytsia Epilogue (curated by Natalia Matsenko,The Naked Room, Kyiv, 2021), Pink Exhibition (group exhibition curated by Anita Nemet, the White World center for contemporary art, Kyiv, 2020); and 100 Days of Loneliness – the project presented works created by artists during and under the influence of quarantine and self-isolation. It was organized in collaboration with port.agency and Vogue (Kooperative, Kyiv, 2020). 



Oksana Kazmina, filmmaker and artist. My work is based on the principles of intersectional feminism and posthumanism. I am co-founder (with Anatolii Belov) of the interdisciplinary project Body Practices, a member of the collectives OKCAHAS (with AntiGonna) and Serviz Propav (with Vasyl Tkachenko), and of Freefilmers, an NGO promoting independent Ukrainian cinema, particularly in Eastern Ukraine. Since 2016 I’ve been working on the documentary Underwater. This film tells about the daily life practices of four Ukrainian artists: AntiGonna (Kyiv–Vinnytsia–Odessa), Ksenia Platanova (Zaporizhzhia), Masha Pronina (Donetsk–Mariupol), and Oksana Kazmina (Novoyavorivsk–Kyiv–Syracuse). The impetus for working on the film Underwater was the project I started in 2014 called Backstage Stories. Daily Routine, Holiday Rituals and Other Bodily Practices of Some Maladapted Groups of Ukrainians.  This project was inspired by some events of 2014, as well as close collaboration and friendship with the artist Anatolii Belov. In general, most of the projects I have initiated are attempts at teamwork, co-creation and collaboration. 



Dariia Kuzmych (b.1991 in Kyiv) I am an artist living between Kyiv, Berlin and Vienna. I’m working with various aspects of time perception being affected by crisis or trauma, and on temporalities in a society. Installation, animation, video, drawing and text are the main mediums I work with. 

I graduated from a monumental painting class at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kyiv, obtained a bachelor’s degree and then completed masters and postgraduate (Meisterschülerin) at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) at the Department of Art and Media taking specialized classes in experimental film and media art. I participated in the residences of Kultur Kontakt Austria, Q21 Museumsquartier Vienna, Atelierhaus Salzamt in Linz.



Kateryna Lysovenko (b. 1989) is an artist. I live and work in Kyiv. I studied at the Grekov Odesa Art School, the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, Kyiv, and at the same time graduated from the Contemporary Art course at KAMA. I focus on the research of power and ideology, as well as the transition from the Soviet to the contemporary. In my work, the image of the victim often emerges, no matter which topic I choose – either the dominance of the art academy, or right-wing violence, religious oppression, and harassment. I participated in the following projects: exhibitions Disciplinary Acts (2018), Cross Sea, This Is Not a Museum – This Is a Factory (2020), The Reader (2020), the Garden for One Day action within the Propaganda of the World of My Dreams project (2021), and the Garden project (2021).



Anita Nemet was born in Khmelnytsky in 1993. In 2014, I graduated from Kamianets-Podilskyi Ivan Ohiienko National University, majoring in Artworks’ Conservation. In 2016, I graduated from the Lviv National Academy of Arts, Department of History and Theory of Art (Master).I work with graphics, photography, performance, text, and create curatorial performances, often in interdisciplinary collaboration with other artists, photographers, musicians, etc. 

My artistic practice deals with issues of feminism, motherhood, failures, ironic-academic interpretation of artworks, mystification, periphery, museum, etc.I worked for the Podillia Center regional TV channel, where I hosted a program on culture and art; taught art history at Khmelnytskyi National University, worked as a researcher and coordinator of educational programs at the Khmelnytskyi Regional Art Museum. Since 2019, I’ve been living and working in Lviv. I am head of the Mykhailo Dzyndra Museum of Modern Sculpture of the Voznytskyi National Gallery of Arts. 



My name is Valentyna Petrova. I am an artist and sometimes a curator; I identify myself politically as a queer anarcho-feminist. In recent years, I’ve been living and working in Kyiv. My artistic education was obtained at the Contemporary Art course by Kateryna Badianova and Lada Nakonechna, as well as at the School of Engaged Art by Chto Delat? group. Among the works that I’m proud of: the group exhibition Spinning Wheel, Sword and Deer at the Stanytsia-Luhanska Regional History Museum, the group exhibition DO{K}VIRA, the performative action Play, landscape sculpture / sculpture in the landscape Small Tree Against a Background of a Big One. I’ve always seen the silence within women’s socialization as one of the active tools for shaping my passive role in society. I’ve been learning to speak up for more than a third of my life. 



Anna Shcherbyna, artist, illustrator, curator. Born in Zaporizhzhia, I studied at the Grekov Odesa Art School, the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, the Art Course (by Lada Nakonechna and Kateryna Badianova), and the Chto Delat? (“What Is to Be Done?”) summer school (2015). In 2021, I took the  course “Writing as Research” by Olha Briukhovetska. I work in the field of visual arts. I am co-founder of the Concrete Dates Collective (2015–2017). In my work, among other issues, I address gender performativity and the emotional “feminine,” internal repression. I participated in the exhibitions A Space of One’s Own (PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv, 2018), Pink Exhibition (Khmelnytskyi Regional Art Museum, Khmelnytskyi), TEXTUS. Embroidery, Textile, Feminism (Visual Culture Research Center, Kyiv, 2017). In 2019, together with Uliana Bychenkova, Zhanna Dolgova and Valentyna Petrova, I organized the international feminist exhibition Cave of the Golden Rose (Closer, Kyiv). With Valentyna Petrova, I co-authored a short socio-critical film Sisters (2019), which analyzes the phenomenon of anti-feminism in Ukraine. I have participated in numerous seminars and workshops, including international ones, like the feminist art laboratory Metamorphoses (2019). I am the co-organizer of the reading group for artists and theorists called “Chytanka” (2020). I live and work in Kyiv. 

 

 

Kateryna Yermolaeva, born in Donetsk in 1985. In 2007 I graduated from the Donbas National Academy of Construction and Architecture with a degree in architecture. I currently live and work in Kyiv, Ukraine. I work with graphics, installation and other mediums. I also worked in the field of street art under the alias Mikhalych. In 2014 I graduated from the Contemporary Art course at the School of Visual Communications. In 2015, I was nominated for the S. Kuryokhin Prize in St. Petersburg, and for the Pinchuk Art Prize in 2015 and 2018. 



Nastia Teor (she, he, they), graphic designer / visual artist. I live and work in Kyiv. I graduated from Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, majoring in Fine Arts. From  2015–2019 I was a member of the activist initiatives SAVEKYIVMODERNISM and Occupy Kyiv Cinemas. In 2020, I completed the “Positions of an Artist” art course (Method Fund) and the course “Theories and Practices of Feminist Writing” (Feminist Workshop). In the same year I took part in the exhibitions Exhibition-Reader in Kryla Art Space (Kyiv), To Free Writing in the Feminist Workshop (Lviv) and Exhibition of Post-Cyberfeminist Art  at Rosa House of Culture (St. Petersburg). I am the author of several amateur texts published in Your Art and TransitoryWhite magazines. I am a member of komaxa art laboratory / collective (since 2019) and Room to Bloom artists’ association (since 2021). In 2021, I worked on the identity of Dreams of Sisterhood residency (Method Fund), designed the web page of Service, a platform for artistic services (curated by Lesia Kulchynska),  and Filma feminist film festival and the online exhibition “DO{K}VIRA” (curated by Yuliia Serdiukova and Valentyna Petrova). 

instagram @nastiaquitsmoking  



Teta Tsybulnyk, artist, visual anthropologist, translator and author. I studied sociology at NaUKMA (Kyiv), social anthropology at CEU (Budapest) and clinical psychology at UCU (Lviv). I am co-founder of the ruїns collective art group, as a member of which I created a series of videos about the non-human view of nature, including the Non-Human Trilogy series: dendro dreams (2017), zong (2019), and object K from LL group (2019). I am a researcher of dreams and semiotics of the unconscious.


 

Part I: Linguo-speechlessness

Part II: Shackled by Writing and Theory

Part III: Nobody Talks About This

Part IV: Bedtime Stories

Imprint

See also