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Yanka Smetanina 

 artist  |  researcher  | curator 

Yanka Smetanina berlin-based artist, she graduated from the Moscow State University of printing arts, studied philosophy and art at the Institute of contemporary art, performance at the PIRFIR school. She has a master's degree in Art in Context from the UdK Berlin/ artistic work with cultural institutions. The main theme of her artistic research is the full range of personal and social experiences, situational exploration of reality and interaction with it, and in specific themes such as trauma, identity, memory, and body as memory. She is primarily interested in how private and collective memory can influence, transform, construct, represent and deconstruct reality. She works with social problems and adheres to the principle of maximum connection with personal experience and subject matter. Since 2004 continuous artistic practice: exhibitions, art projects and teaching. 

I understand myself as an interdisciplinary and transnational nomad, an anti-fascist, a pacifist, radical anarcho-feminist with migrations experience, and I speak and act from the position of an oppressed minority. A decisive and pivotal moment in my artistic practice was the screening of the project "Residents of the 5th psychiatric hospital in Khotkovo,"(1) which publicly exposed the oppression of women faced with repressive psychiatry and my own. Anarchism with a public confession of being a feminist was superimposed on my multicultural roots, leading me to be excluded from the majority community. In defending my position I felt the need to speak openly and unabashedly, without apology for leaving the place where they were trying to put me. As I gradually found my voice, I spoke up for those who had not yet found that strength. By exploring my own weakness and powerlessness (2), (3), (17),  

and trying to fill the missing gaps, I came to understand how the private affects the public.

Working with family archives and confronting the mechanisms of repression and manipulation of collective memory, led me to the process of reconstructing my own history. As an artist and performer I was interested in the moment of absence, the erasure by the repressive machine of personality (4), (5) and history (6), (7), I connected the personal and the collective archive of memory in my projects reflecting the Soviet past (8), (9).

Being in a country with an increasingly patriarchal conservative background, I could not get past the process of women's oppression by sexism and objectification. Which provided an impetus for exploring the body and queerness, in the context of memory and trauma. (10), (11).

Finding it necessary to support the position of the socially weak disabled and the elderly I did projects tied to a specific place about acute social themes. (12).

Being a mother myself, I was interested in such a vulnerable group as children (13), (14), (15).

Events in Ukraine strengthened my anti-war (16), (17), and (18) anti-state position, I decided to leave Russia as well.

I was born in Bashkiria, an autonomous Soviet republic, in a small Bashkir town where most residents spoke Bashkir and Tatar, and still, remember a few phrases in Tatar. My multinational background prevented me from being recognized as "my own" to many, but rather exposed me to even more significant exclusion. "Being different" made me part of a community of others. 

In corrupt Russia, the mechanism of memory falsification for political purposes is well established. Soviet rule, interspersed with the dictatorships of Stalin and Putin, has created a tool for censoring and suppressing information and historical memory by canning archives and correcting school textbooks. In a country without democracy, with violence against women and rampant discrimination, the feminist movement has been the most progressive, both in its struggle for the rights of oppressed minorities and in its decolonial preservation of memory. This is how I came to collect the archives of my multi-ethnic family, in which almost the entire older generation was subjected to repression. The forced exile of members of my family left a mark on my perception of life. In the absence of the possibility (in fact, until the beginning of the 21st century) to move freely in Russia, this fact strongly influenced my fate. In the project "Lost Branches" (7) dedicated to my German grandmother, it was important for me to show not only the difficult war period for Russian Germans, but also the moment of their non-recognition in their new homeland. Now identity as a construct and the preservation of cultural memory are the main focus of my research interests.

Curatorial practice | Selection
2023 Identity Crisis. Curatorial research project, exhibition. Berlin.
2022 This is not a love song - spaces for activation. Exhibition. Project space Galerie M, Berlin.
2022 A feast at the time of the plague. Exhibition. Project space Art Matters, Berlin.
2022 Was noch gesagt werden muss. Workshops and installation. In collaboration with Frauentreff HeLLMa and Tiele-Winckler-Haus. Project space Galerie M, Berlin. 
2022 YML exhibition: When the flying elephant visited Berlin... Workshops | Exhibition. Märkisches Museum, Berlin. 
2021 - 2022 Feminist conversations - feminists converse | Participatory action. Conversations in public space. Berlin.
2021 Internal intervention. Exhibition. Bla-Bla project space, Kolonie Wedding, Berlin.
2021 - Project Space Art Matters. Discussion club on contemporary art, Berlin.
2019 - 2020 Where does home begin? Project on cultural identity and diversity with older german repatriants. Workshops | Exhibition. Festival Offenes Neukölln.
2016 The phenomenon of inclusive theater in the mirror of the festival "Proteatr". Sixth All-Russian Festival of Inclusive Theatre "Proteatr". Exhibition. Cultural Center ZIL, Moscow.
2014 - 2016 The kitchen | art workshops for women. Workshops, exhibition. R. Luxemburg Foundation. Moscow.

2016 Under lock and key. Exhibition. Association of artists Painted Bird. Communal project space Gallery A3, Moscow.

Lectures | Mediating practice | Selection 
2022 Resistance. Here and Now! In the FRAMEWORK of REMEMBER RESISTANCE 33-45. German Resistance Memorial Center, Berlin.
2022 YML Exhibition: "When the Flying Elephant visited Berlin..." Workshops and exhibition. Märkischen Museum, Berlin.
2022 Flight to freedom. Art education research project. Workshop series. Exhibitions. Creative studio Zuckerwattenkrawatten | J-ArtEck Jugendbildungsstätte e.V. | Project Space Art Matters | Project Preview UdK, Berlin.  
2019 - 2021 Bärinnen. Feminist art collaboration, Berlin.
2014 - 2017 DK 264. Debating club. DAR Research Institute, Moscow.
2016 Graphic Novel. Workshop. Kazan.
2016 Other atmosphere. Social and artistic project, workshop. Tushino Children's Hospital, Moscow.

Personal presentations and video screenings | Selection
2022 Women at War. Focus Tour. KW Institute for Contemporary Art
2022 New participatory art against injustice. Author guided tours with lecture through the exhibition. This is not a love song - spaces for activation. Project space Galerie M, Berlin
2022 Memory studies & commemoration in video evidence and short film: new forms of archive. Changing the view and the viewer's point of view. Lecture | film screening | discussion. Project space Art Matters. 

2022 XPRMNTL anti-festival.  "White Flag. Official Selections. London, (UK)
2022 K-Music and Arts Film Festival (KMAFF).  "White flag". Official Selections. Seoul, (KR)
2022 Mannheim Arts and Film Festival. "White flag". Best Human Rights Film, (D)
2022 Lift-Off Filmmaker Sessions @ PinewoodStudios.  "White flag". Official Selections. Buckinghamshire, (UK)
2022 The Thilsri, International Film Festival. "White flag". Best music video. Alampattu, (IN)

2020 Prize of "Jury of the Commission "30 years of Peaceful Revolution and German Unity", Berlin.
2017/2018 Art Russia, Top 100 artists.
2015 Scholarship. Institute f. contemporary arts, Baza, Moscow, (R)
2014 Just Award 2014, laureate, Moscow, (R).
2013 Kandinsky Award 2013, nominee, category "Project of the Year", Moscow, (R).
2011 Scotch 2010, special prize winner, Moscow, (R)

2023 Master exhibition of the Institute for Art in Context, CCA Berlin. (G)
2023 Enlightenment 2.0. salon Sofie Charlotte, Berlin. (G)
2023 Peace. Pride art, Berlin. (G)
2023 Endangered languages, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences,Berlin. (G)
2022 XPRMNTL anti-festival. London, (UK)
2022 K-Music and Arts Film Festival (KMAFF). Seoul, (KR)
2022 Mannheim Arts and Film Festival. "White Flag. Best Human Rights Film, (D)
2022 Lift-Off Filmmaker Sessions @ PinewoodStudios. Buckinghamshire(UK) 
2022 The Thilsri, International Film Festival. "White flag". Best music video. (IN)
2022 Women at War.  KW Institute for Contemporary Art >>>>> (D)
2022 Room 252. Berlin (D)
2022 KunstKaufen - The exhibition for discoverers, Udk Berlin, (D)
2022 This is not a love song, project space Galerie M, Berlin, (D)
2022 Intersectional, Pride art, Berlin, (D)
2021 2nd Triennial Contemporary Art.  Fifth wave. Museum contemporary art garage. Moscow.
2020 Body, ORI Artistic Forum, Berlin, (D). 
2019 Unreal desires. Somos, Berlin, (D)
2019 Berlin Transit. Omsk, (R) 
2019 Interwinnen Bodies, Somos, Berlin, (D)

2022 Dress of Freedom. Panda Cultural Platform. Berlin. (D)
2021 Internal Intervention, Bla-Bla Project, Berlin, (D)
2020 Exercises. Vinogradov Gallery, Berlin, (D) 
2020 Spätaussiedler*innen. The lost branches. 'Galerie der Einheit' of the Commission ,30 Jahre Friedliche Revolution und Deutsche Einheit' at the UnityEXPO on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of German Unity in Potsdam (D) >>>>>
2020 Tut mir leid uns Rosa Luxemburg, Lauschengrif, Berlin, (D).
2019 Refrain, bla-bla project, Berlin (D)
2017 Handschwung, Fine Art Gallery, Moscow, (R)
2015 Texte, Russian-Austrian Cultural Forum, Moscow, (R)

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Yanka Smetanina is a Berlin-based multidisciplinary artist, independent curator and researcher. She studied animation and film at the College of Cinematic Arts, graphics arts and painting at Ivan Fedorov University of Printing Arts, philosophy and art at the Institute of Contemporary Art and performance at the Pyrfir artschool in Moscow. She holds a Master's degree in Institut Art in Context, UdK Berlin. Artistic work with cultural institutions. Her artistic research focuses on decolonial methodologies, feminist and gender theories, politics of identity and privilege, memory studies and the representation of trauma, politics of resistance and self-organization, education systems. She works in the fields painting and graphic, video, performance. In 2013 she was nominated for the Kandinsky Prize (equivalent to the British Turner Prize) in the category Project of the Year, and in 2014 she won the Simply Prize in Moscow. In 2020, her video installation was awarded a prize by BMI Germany on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of German unity and was shown at the Galerie der Einheit in Potsdam. Her visual works and films have been presented at exhibitions, festivals, biennales and triennales in Moscow, Tashkent, Berlin, Mannheim, Vienna, Oslo, Seoul, London and others. The works are in private and public collections, in the RAAN network of Russian art archives of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

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