Yana Smetanina was born in Belebey. She has lived in Siberia, spent a long time in Moscow. and is now a Berlin-based artist.
She received an M.F.A.from Moscow State University of Print Media, studied philosophy and art at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and performance at the PYRFYR School in Moscow. A diverse education and the various technical capabilities allow her to vary the media in her artistic narratives. Her primary themes are social and private issues and topics considered taboo.
In her first solo exhibition, she painted over portraits of her departed relatives. It was nominated for the Kandinsky Prize. Some of her other projects made an impact, especially among activists. For example, exhibitions like “Feminist Pencil 2”, “Feminist Dictionary” and her participation in a number of international biennale.
She has actively taken part in feminist initiatives and private initatives such as the “Kitchen”, organized exhibitions and a discussion club. Her projects are often participatory, such as a project at the 5th Psychiatric Hospital in Khotkovo, where she documented the stories of sick women who were victims of violence. The theme of death is present in another project, “A little heat.” Smetanina asked patients from a hospice about what made them happy at the end of their life and painted their answers.
Sometimes her works are very traumatic to herself. In the performance “Ladder”, she climbed a flight of stairs, and was repeatedly pushed back by an assistant. It stood for the patriarchal hierarchy of power.Currently she works regularly with painting and performance using the theme “body” in a feminist context. Approaching the issue is also radical as it depicts vaginas, touching on such sensitive topics as fatshaming, body shaming, slatshaming.