23 June 2022

Silence féminin: Nobody Talks About This

Valentina Petrova, Natasha Chychasova, Lusia Ivanova, Kateryna Lysovenko, Anita Nemet
Silence féminin: Nobody Talks About This


“Once, I heard from an acquaintance of mine”

Valentyna Petrova


Once, I heard from an acquaintance of mine: 

some very curious facts about her physically exhausting and (coincidentally) low-paying job. 

Yet, you can’t talk about it publicly. As well as privately; it’s not desirable. After all, she signed a silence agreement with her successful and far-sighted employers [yes, a non-disclosure of privileged information and secrets]. So that nobody, not a single person in the world, could find out exactly how the labor rights of Ukrainian miners are being violated. 


The other day, I watched an acquaintance of mine: 

she discussed her text, her vivid speech, her thoughts about her own (believe me, exceptionally necessary and bold, and honest, and reflective) work with the words: “What am I saying?”, “Why am I saying all this?”, “How do I learn to speak properly?” 

Yet, she spoke beautifully, her words were valuable, her speech was clear. (It’s also important to clarify that almost all my female acquaintances unanimously bear a frustrating doubt about everything they say, write, do, feel and experience.) 

Valentyna Petrova, Untitled, 2016

I was a bystander when an acquaintance of mine: 

was not ashamed to be homophobic and misogynistic under the watchful eye of a movie camera. And then, years later, he didn’t say: “This is so embarrassing; I was so young and didn’t understand what I was saying at all; I’m ashamed to have said this and it’s amazing that I don’t think and don’t express myself like that anymore.” No, he said: “Pay me a hundred euros and use this video the way you want” (It’s also important to clarify that none of my male acquaintances ever doubt what they say and / or do.) 


I know that an acquaintance of mine: 

never talks about her acquaintance beating her because she doesn’t want to seem like a victim to all her other acquaintances. 

I wonder if this acquaintance of hers is silent about his physical abuse of her for the same reason? I have a similar acquaintance. He prefers to remain silent because he is worried – not about someone else’s appearance but about his reputation


An acquaintance of mine told me: 

that her acquaintance was beaten and strangled with wires by her acquaintance. 

Yet, this information is not public, and various other people communicate affectionately with that acquaintance and write art history notes about the mediocre works by this lover of wires and strong alcoholic drinks (I remember another acquaintance of mine. His story used to be shrouded in a haze of silence that evaporated immediately after he strangled his pregnant acquaintance with the handle of a bag)


Several acquaintances of mine shared a story with me: 

one of our mutual acquaintances was raped by one of our mutual acquaintances. 

You can talk about this only in a circle of your close acquaintances without naming anyone’s names because it’s anyway clear to everyone who’s “guilty” of sexual assault – there is no need to multiply this knowledge. This happened so long ago that sometimes I feel like all my (and your) acquaintances know about it. All this doesn’t at all prevent my acquaintance from being a respected man [yes, they are all respected and loved – it’s their natural right (and our natural duty)]. 


Do you also feel like this silence, generated by speechlessness, is actually a high-pitched scream, imbued with despair? 



“Once, a Kind Sister Asked Me”

Natasha Chychasova


Once, a kind sister asked me:


So what do you feel when you’re alone with yourself? 


– Mostly anger. I call it a militant wrath, a raging harlot, a horrible vigilante and much more. She (not he) is pervasive and merciless. She makes me bloat like I’m about to burst. The angry warrior inside is clearly larger than my vessel – a sad body that every now and then takes the opportunity to sleep and eat. Hormones scatter throughout the body in bulk and merge into a tube while fairly exhausting and disturbing me. But the wrath remains, or rather gets stuck, and constantly tries to get out. I anxiously hide it, try to calm it down, hold it (why?) and my still miserable, disturbed vessel begins to kick, spasm, spin, break, spread. 


For what reason, warrior, are you rebelling?

– Well, for every reason. Because of the constant need to win back my voice, my right to exist, to be as awkward as I am. (Am I worth it?) After all, is it too much to ask to be heard and understood instead of being silent as usual and waiting until someone throws me a bone of approval, like I’m some kind of a faithful dog? They pat you on the head to later pull your hair and repeatedly hit you against the wall of complete disregard and silence, making you tear up and hate yourself even more. Because you can’t be direct. And everything around you is so ornate, unclear, streamlined. *Yuck* It seems like she – my inside warrior – is the only one to speak out. Not with an ultrasound, but with the words legible to everyone and no one at the same time.


So, how’s your “wrathful lady” now?

– Wrath doesn’t not seem endless. She still protests furiously and then pours herself out into another letter to someone (who?). The words have scattered, flared up, and faded away, leaving a scorched wick and a faint fragrance of sulfur.


And in the loud silence, I wonder:


Where is she, the damned warrior, who promised me a paradise of being heard?

And the answer is that with her strength she only inflates me to the edge, douses me with heat, and then with a *puff* she’s gone. And I become so loose, lost, and silent, dummied up.

So, where are you now?

Well faded away like all my desires. Rushed off in pursuit of the symbolic phallus, leaving me confused and silent again.



By the way, there’s no kind sister. Only trembling in the hands, tears in the eyes, a hum in the ears. That nasty feeling of bitterness joins them again. What about another stomach pill, a tranquilizer? No. It’s a dream torn apart that generates a vicious circle in which my militant lady runs after another phallic ghost and leaves me speechless.

Maybe I’ll catch up with her somehow (or maybe not). I’ll shout something worthwhile to her (or maybe not).


I should probably write to her. I’m more confident in writing. It seems to flow from the inside like a roaring river, through snags of syntax and misspelled words. But is this enough?

I’m scared of another polygonal silence, which I can neither get away nor hide from but only come to terms with (or not?).

And yet, another disappointing fact: tag-games are tiring. And might even kill.



25 Ways to keep quiet

Lusia Ivanova

Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait with a short haircut, 2017
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait with seventh cervical vertebrae, 2020
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait in a predicament, 2017
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait if I were in blue, 2020
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait #5 (with armpits), 2019
Lusia Ivanova, Last self-portrait with long hair, 2017
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait with Kurt Cobain, 2017
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait on dirty paper, 2019
Lusia Ivanova, Night returning Self-portrait, 2018
Lusia Ivanova, Topless self-portrait, 2019
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait in mom's sweater, 2019
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait in May 2020
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait in the mirror, 2020
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait in a heat of passion, 2020
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait in the shower, 2020
Lusia Ivanova, Self-Portrait in a rage, 2020
Lusia Ivanova,Self-Portrait in Winter, 2020
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait with 28, 2017
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait with selfie, 2017
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait at the door, 2019
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait at the window of a prosphora, 2017
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait portraying a smile 2020
Lusia Ivanova, Last self-portrait of the time, 2017
Lusia Ivanova, Self-portrait looking at the reflection of a night window, 2020
Lusia Ivanova, First self-portrait after realizing the catastrophe, 2016




Kateryna Lysovenko


Fragments 1


  1. I’m finally alive. I have desires now but there is no room for them in reality, and I won’t become a dream.


  1. There’s a forest near my house. In the footsteps of those who build houses, a forest grows. That’s why it grows everywhere. I took the children to the forest when it was warm; they spend their days there, they learn what to do to make the forest grow. Today the forest is  dark emerald. In the place where the trees end, I’ll meet my loved ones and we’ll lose our shape for a while; only names will remain. 

When the forest reemerged, something appeared in places where the trees ended. It had no shape but it had a name. It told us what a shape is, and what a name is, and that a name can take any shape. We tried to give our names the freedom of shape, and love has had no barriers since. 

That’s how we live now. 


  1. Death had torn through the plastic bag that masked it so well. A curtain that hides the real has fallen. The lungs roast from air not flowing through a dense fabric. There’s no more reason to be afraid; fear no longer protects you, father. 

Kateryna Lysovenko, Kindergarden, 2022


Fragments 2 


  1. Wanting to be destroyed, it reached the others and pushed them. The others fell but didn’t pursue with destruction, so it jumped on those lying on the ground, hoping to collapse from the strike but it remained intact while others died. 


  1. Eve made a mistake. She should have seduced the snake rather than Adam. 


  1. Those who are broken can no longer talk about the existence of pain that can’t be endured. There’s pain they’re not responsible for; there’s pain that silences, paralyzes, and then the only way to speak is to die. 


There is a language for the deaf, a language for the blind, so why can’t we learn the language of those who are numb from pain?


Fragments 3


  1. We’re all like circus freaks, everybody was crippled in childhood, and we survived, became special, we’re interesting to look at. 


  1. Predatory emptiness whispers with an unbearable magnitude aimed at the possibility of enjoyment in the future: look, just look for another body, no matter whose, devour someone, otherwise you’ll have to devour yourself. A whisper of pinkish-red flesh turns into a yawning black anti-scream. 

The pupils expand, filling the eye holes, the darkness of the eyes and the darkness of the mouth unite into a boundless abyss and become the song of a siren – an inept, weak siren singing to herself and depriving herself of her mind, unable to hide her monstrosity. 


To experience unrequited love is a good way to love yourself indirectly. I reconsider my photographs, examine my work, thinking about the way my love sees them. I feel attracted to myself, imagining that the one I’m attracted to feels the same. Nothing miraculous happens, my love doesn’t join my peering into the world and into myself, and doesn’t invite me to their own. So, I look at myself for half a year, or a year, moving from admiration to disgust. 

My problem is that I fall in love at first sight, without any sign or action from the other side, and it feels like madness according to Barthes. Like in A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, I expect this madness, I want it.  

As a child, I was struck by the tactics of cheetahs, which I saw in a wildlife show. A cheetah chooses a target and pursues it until it runs out of steam. While chasing, it doesn’t notice other delicious beautiful roe deer and antelopes, which are much closer and easier to catch, and often remains with nothing, the cheetah is caught by its fixation on one roe deer. I set a goal at a glance, and this dooms me to unpleasant feelings and failure because I’m immediately captured and paralyzed, all by myself. 


Fear of a big catastrophe, fear of a small catastrophe, fear of a personal catastrophe, fear of a professional catastrophe, fear creeps from news of the dead to a strange gift, from a video of the beaten to something exploding, the sound was terrible, the children screamed, I saw a group of running children, they were screaming, I went to meet them, suddenly something else exploded there, and some help was needed, turned out it was a thunder, it was just very loud, everything slowed down, it was almost impossible to breathe, everyone was safe, but I really wanted to save someone, maybe myself, I couldn’t stop imagining that everything was exploding and someone needed help, the earth is cracking, lava flows are erupting, and I have long chitinous legs, like a huge insect, and with such legs, lava doesn’t scare me, and catastrophes are not terrible, and other people’s feelings and words are not terrible, and strange uninvited gifts are not terrible, and nothing is terrible, it’s a pity I don’t have chitinous legs. 


Big promises break against each other, and the lack is about to become visible, the non-manifestation of which was hidden behind many lives and many times, it seems that the unmanifested, freed from promises, will find a form of expression that doesn’t steal from the present, maybe, this would be a calm sadness, maybe, the discovery of community in loneliness, maybe, a freed time, no longer owned by anyone, but again the lack was caught and entwined by a new network, but from whose lives and whose time was it woven? 


Goddess: Her Mortal Birth

Anita Nemet



In the middle of a forest,


in the dark of night


a light flickered by,


blurry, tingly, fiery.


Was it her life or theirs…






I was born in this terrain

early in the century

when the wind carried fragrances

dancing through the tree crowns

I was made a goddess by the decision of fate 

so the body could go into labour

and hands could make

I turned insults into images

from the nature of the pain

I did not run away

too many gifts my tender body will not bear

parts of it will break, some will overcome

but does not twinkle

how to align the routine with a fairy tale

why defeat 

does it often border the attempts?

the forgetting of my name is inevitable like a curse  

in the end, always remembering the flowers’ crucifix.

I will now bring into the world a new life 

that will vanish

that will spread its own body

take off

fly away

leaving a colored mist behind





I was born nearby, not far away

at the end of the last century

among the pines and flowers

my life is meant to save the past

boundless uncertainty

I’m in the eternal wall of security

the Infante, a happy mourner

fear of giant sleepwalkers,

passing by

unfolding their guidebooks in front of me

nobody believes me

no one trusts

praising my youth

or mine?

they’re all grieving for a lost paradise

and I will burn to everyone’s surprise

along with everything that was

there will be nothing left for me

except for small indefinite lines

copies of copies

which will be greedily sniffed out by others

young sisters who will come long after me

will collect ashes mixed with sugar and something shiny





she’s born

and this, alone, is a miracle

she can do anything

she can tell about everything lived and experienced in a way

that makes everything around her numb

waiting for her next breath

you all desire her vehemently 

you want to be filled with her

and go on to be filled with similar others

I will keep her from you

I will carry her light into the next time

I will erect monuments of mineral stones

lay down fields with colorful plants

with ornaments of her unspoken words

I’ll make a potion from her patience and pour it into flasks

I’ll build great beautiful museums

where her young old and mature sisters will find shelter

and endlessly perform walkarounds




she was born into obscurity

no one knows where she came from

and when her life ended

the only thing we know

is that she followed him like a shadow

repeated every step

leaving only a little more room for color

it was the fate of almost everyone

who at least slightly lifted the curtain of the afterworld

lifting it completely, some fell into the window of uncertainty,

and some stood firmly on the path of blinding light

to fearlessly cross the gap of doubt and oppression

to swim out and take the coveted sip of freedom

do we know them?

these daredevils?

they walked the same streets as we do now

their trips were long.





she is me!

I was born everywhere

I won’t hit me in my chest for too long

I’ll hit the stone

cast the steel

I took everything from this world

and will make a new one


I wasn’t born

But was always here

I’m everywhere

In a glass of water

In the beam

That shines from time to time

On the forgotten coffins

Of my earthly children

Who on the way to contemplation of the moonlight

Fell into the abyss of uncertainty

Were not afraid to speak clearly, loudly and sincerely

Then rushed headlong into eternity

Where you are

Where I am

Where we are




Anita Nemet, Experiment with Immersion, 2015
Anita Nemet, The Memory of a Loss, 2014


See other parts of the publication:


Part I: Linguo-speechlessness

Part II: Shackled by Writing and Theory

Part IV Bedtime Stories


See also