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a duo exhibition with Usva Inei

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Circularity / Цикличность

An art exhibition by Usva Inei and Anya Shilonos, hARTslane, Sep 7-11 2023.


Circularity / Цикличность explores the lived experience of being a Russian immigrant in the contemporary political context overshadowed by war, in which Russian people have become both instigators of aggression and victims of a brutal regime. The exhibition is a conversation between the two artists, specifically exploring topics of generational trauma and its effect on how Russian immigrants view the world. 


Usva showed a series of etchings, linocuts, and drypoint prints, using a mixture of personal and family photographs with newsreel imagery and Russian folklore as the basis for the work. Coming from a mixture of the personal and the public, the art pieces investigate power structures within Russian culture, looking at how these are built up through acculturation and upbringing. The prints further sway between the past and the present, with the two becoming mixed and sometimes indistinguishable. Can we ever get out of the toxic structures that we keep repeating?


Anya presented a family excavation project based around the subject of transgenerational totalitarian/war trauma. In their experience working with trauma as both a client and counsellor, Anya observed how transgenerational traumas can evolve like a game of "Chinese whisper," adapting to individuals' lifelines. Family members often retell horrific events countless times, reshaping and distorting their memories. This coping mechanism reflects our brain's constant memory rewriting. Some memories resurface later in life, while others remain unspoken for years. Unprocessed trauma, despite attempts to hide it, influences life choices and the stories we tell. Trauma is like stinging nettle, often unnoticed until it stings sharply. It takes time and courage to explore its origins, acknowledging the range of feelings it brings. The family excavation art on display represented Anya’s attempt to engage with her ancestors' traumas and understand how they echo in their life. These artefacts served as a dialogue with long-lost relatives, especially those she never had the chance to speak to. Just as therapy is an ongoing process, this project continues. Anya invites you to reflect on your own family memories and how your family grappled with 20th-century horrors.


In the context of the ongoing pain caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it's crucial to address trauma and its processing. Many people, including many Russians, are outraged and retraumatised by this ongoing tragedy. Healing will take time, and it's our duty to prevent trauma from becoming dormant and dangerous, thus breaking the vicious circle. Our contribution is to reflect, feel, ask questions, research, speak out, and be kind. We urge you to join us in any way that feels safe for you.


Anya and Usva's project was supported by Dr. Elena Cherepanov, Dr. Cherepanov is an internationally recognized trauma specialist, trainer and consultant for UNICEF, Office of Victims Assistance, NAPPI International: " I congratulate both artists with such an outstanding work they've done. These artworks open important conversations. I sincerely hope that the exhibition brings attention to the topic of transgenerational trauma. All the best!".

Usva Inei (they/them) is a trans non-binary visual and performance artist. They primarily work through mixed media installations, with various forms of printmaking being a central element of their practice. Working from their lived experiences as a queer Russian immigrant, Usva’s art practice addresses current events and ongoing political discourses, exploring themes of misuse of power, suppression of freedom of speech, and generational trauma. Usva is also an interdisciplinary researcher focusing on developing art-based methodologies.


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