project image
Yelena Myshko

first performed on December 04, 2020
the artist's studio
performed once in 2020


Zutphen, the Netherlands


In 2019–2020, I was pregnant with my first child. My pregnancy was treated as normal; however, I developed severe pre-eclampsia and lost my child at 31 weeks. The disease went unnoticed despite reporting all symptoms until I stopped feeling fetal movement for two days. My daughter Feetje was stillborn on April 1. I did not want to reflect on this experience as an artist until I came across An Artist Residency in Motherhood. The open-minded setup of the residency and reflection on everyday life inspired me to make art again.

My performances usually take place at home without a public. I turn to my smartphone to document the events as performalist self-portraits. This terminology was coined by Hannah Wilke for her own work that I build upon. Performalist self-portrait is performance in front of the camera, resulting in intimate images that reach the audience through reproduction. The documented performances find their way online through Instagram and are edited there. I decided to convert these original small images to NFTs that I offer on and want to keep small for print as well. There is something extremely intimate about watching small pictures that draw the public into my world.

During my performances I implode mundane aspects of ordinary life by using any objects at hand. The challenge always is to use simple means in resourceful ways. This performance started with a medical mask that I had to wear during the Covid-19 lockdowns. It symbolizes the period during which I was pregnant and gave birth for the first time. However, I was a mother without a child, since my daughter was born sleeping as it is referred to in the baby loss community.

Starting out with the medical mask in my hands, this pose immediately came to mind. I am holding my baby, although I have nothing in my arms. The nipple that was showing was bodypainted so that Instagram would not censor the picture. I posed like this for my smartphone using the timer function to photograph myself. The result emerged after a few takes—I usually work fast like that. So, the performalist self-portraits are always born in the moment from idea to artwork.