Beyond the reality principle: spaces of ethical resistance in madness, coloniality and patriarchy through the lens of process-oriented documentary filmmaking

Yaniya Mikhalina
40 min Presentation + 40 min Discussion
Margaret Thali
Trondheim Kunstmuseum
This presentation aims at mapping the trajectories of an artistic research project whose starting point was the notion of madness as a political category that outlines the borders of reality. It speaks of the other side of the “freedom, equality, fraternity” project — namely, madness, coloniality, patriarchy, and the spaces of ethical resistance that can be produced and supported through the lens of process-oriented documentary filmmaking. In my case, this begins with the example of researching a temporality somewhere between post-Soviet and post-Russian territories. I will present two parts of my case-based PhD project in the form of the exhibition at Trondheim Kunstmuseum. The first part of my PhD is a documentary “Sisterless,” a narrative of young Tatar woman in Russia experiencing psychosis. Based on conversations gathered over 1.5 years, it provides a sex- and class-conscious take on the psychiatric system in Russia, inter-generational traumas, embodied capitalism, and female guilt in relation to political events. Several months after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and six months after the final edit of the film, Albina, the main heroine, committed suicide. The second film project is dedicated to the prerequisites of Russian imperialism. It works with found footage from documentary filmmaking, built around the process of composing the archive of home videos from indigenous families, and assembling it with representations of political agency of non-ethnic Russian communities from early 90s independent TV program, materials from early Soviet national film studios, and more. Documentary filmmaking, with a focus on feminization of production processes, serves as a methodological framework for the project. The notion of documentary will also be linked to the concept of listening rather than observing, and to care rather than affectivity – as a necessary structural attunement towards a shared reality that couldn’t be oppressed, rejected, or monopolized.

Yaniya Mikhalina

Yana Mikhalina is an artist, filmmaker and researcher in search of places for female ethics under patriarchy and colonialism. She is invested in documentary practices, and works with topics such as sickness and convalescence, Islam feminism and psychoanalysis. Her works take various forms such as films, short-term institutions and events. Since 2020, Yana has been a Ph.D. candidate in Artistic Research at the Trondheim Art Academy.