In 2020, Yelena was pregnant with her first child. Her pregnancy was treated as normal, however she developed severe pre-eclampsia and lost her child at 31 weeks. The disease went unnoticed, despite reporting all symptoms, until Yelena stopped feeling foetal movement for two days. Her daughter Feetje was stillborn on April 1st. Yelena did not want to reflect on this experience as an artist until she came across An Artist Residency in Motherhood. It gave her the green light for action.

After her daughter’s death, Yelena turned to sharing her story in the media. She found strength in seeking justice for her case against the health officials that did not intervene on time. It dawned on Yelena that during the pregnancy everything around her was focused on money. She was swarmed with information about what to buy and heard nothing about what could go wrong. Even after her daughter’s cremation, Yelena was stalked by ads for new moms, while she had no child to take care of. It seems that Yelena’s daughter only mattered as long as she had commercial value.

At some point her daughter’s death crossed an online argument about All Lives Matter. Yelena posted a critique of a black republican on the movement and was called a racist among other things. Previously she was forced to censor some artworks that featured black body paint because it was presumed to be blackface. On both occasions Yelena had to adhere to political correctness and abandon the idea of freedom of thought because it was against the status quo. This triggered an adverse reaction, instead of conforming to the criticism, Yelena decided to walk on the sword’s edge. She understands that working with this topic is tricky because of the connection All Lives Matter has to the far right. However, Yelena is not interested to cause harm but calls for a broader discussion on human rights.

Yelena’s goal is to pull All Lives Matter out of context to introduce the under-discussed, taboo issue, of the right to be of the unborn child. It is also a reaction to people's insensitive remarks which uncover that Yelena’s child does not matter because she was born sleeping. Furthermore, Yelena calls to include nature at large in all-lives-matter. This time she swaps the black body paint for green, using the color to connect the dots.

  • art
  • year: 2020-ongoing
  • medium: performalist self-portrait
  • dimensions: 40x40cm






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