H_Air To be reborn, going through mourning

by Claudia Ravaldi

I met Yana a few months ago. Or rather, she came to look for me, she wrote to me, to talk to me about her project. We found ourselves between the lines, respectful, kind, full of meaning that we exchanged. I immediately loved the words, the ideas, the photographs of the H_Air project. I loved the way to relate a life experience that one would like to make unspeakable, inconsistent, non-existent. Yana’s project gives voice to this experience of expectation and loss. Experience that was mine, that is yours.

The crowfunding campaign to print Yana’s book has started these days. We have selected this project as a 2020 cultural project for raising awareness on perinatal bereavement, and we hope that many others will support it with us with a small contribution. We can’t wait to let all women know this story of Yana, which is everyone’s story.

While waiting to conclude the campaign and see the book printed, I asked Yana to tell us a little about her and her story.

Tell us a little about yourself: what was your path?

I was born in Bulgaria and at the age of three we moved to Italy, where I grew up and trained. A few years ago I moved to Germany, where I met my current partner, but managed to return often to my Italian country, even for long periods.

My artistic path was born with dance and I deepened it by studying Performing Arts at the University of Rome. I specialized in Social Theater and I have had various work experiences in social, intercultural, educational and rehabilitative projects, through theater, dance and body expression.

For some time I have felt in a transitional phase, going through a period of stasis and uncertainty, especially regarding my professional choices. I’m looking for …

Tell us something about your wait.

Anton’s arrival was a surprise. We weren’t planning on becoming parents. I was focused on myself and partly bewildered by some life choices, in search of personal fulfillment. Pregnancy has somehow made sense of myself, as a person, in the constant question of who I am and what I do. From that moment on I knew… I am a mother.

I often thought that this role had already given too much responsibility to my child, as if he had come to “save me”, becoming the center of my world and future.

From the first months, I had started a small logbook, where I wrote down thoughts, philosophies and points of view on ways of living life, respecting and loving what surrounds us and having no judgment or fear, with the idea of one day giving it. to him and the hope that it had been useful to him to orient himself in the world.

In the last phase of pregnancy we have gone through moments of great change and indecision. Changing cities, looking for a new apartment, organizing themselves economically, deciding where to give birth (whether in Italy or Germany). Decisions that had to be taken immediately, creating misunderstandings between me and my partner and stressful situations, but at the end we found new solutions, accommodation and harmony between us.

Thanks to Anton I opened my eyes and discovered the pure beauty and harmony that exists in everything and the complications, which life puts before you, have faded, every day closer to the moment of having him with us.

For me, there are no words that can describe the deep and visceral sensations of experiencing the transition from being one to becoming two and being two in one , inseparable in a full body.

A privilege that only the mother-child bond can give. At first it is just an indefinite idea or a microscopic image, yet already so present, until all the senses awaken and I began to feel, to know him within me.

In all those months I stopped, although my body was constantly changing, to savor the intimate moments of a relationship that was born inside me, with those who do not yet know each other, having only the possibility to imagine and plan, with the heart in thrill for the day of meeting and contact. A relationship that I jealously guard in my memories and that I share only with him, sitting with closed eyes next to his tree, a young beech.

The creative process, in addition to being a method for mourning, in what way was it also a channel of contact and relationship with Anton?

The photographic process was the beginning of a therapeutic path, emphasized in the union with the text, as a way to fill or position the sudden void.

Finding how the words of my thoughts resonate in the images of my body was the fulcrum in the transition from trauma to resilience.

One day I tried to experience the Selfie in motion , during the quarantine period, in a time of suspension, when you could only “stay”. This image of “being” made me reflect. I was already “in pain” for several months and in part I felt it was wrong, instead of reacting (as they say). But then, for most people, “being” had become an obligation. So to go even deeper, to go through and transform the pain, I chose to stay in discomfort. Having an experience that made me uncomfortable.

I’ve always had a critical look at the selfie and those who choose to show themselves through it.

I’ve always felt uncomfortable showing myself. The need to shoot myself arose from this emotion and condition. With the aim of making it cathartic.

Creativity certainly plays a central role, in its so spontaneous expression, because it leads me to look towards life, restoring my vital sense – through a sublimation of thoughts , as a transformation from a solid and heavy state to a light and aeriform state – without giving in to the sense of death that drags down and anchors in the dark.

In the days immediately following Anton’s loss and in the weeks and months that followed, writing was the only way I felt left, not to forget, to keep imprinted on every detail of the before and after … every smell, taste, pain, reaction of the body before and during childbirth.

Not to miss Anton again.

Over time I realized that something had yet to be born.

The pages created live on Anton and his vital energy, in every word, shape and color.

There my emptied body is filled up again, in a transcendental dimension, where contact and dialogue with my son have no limits.

In this way I learn to welcome his passage into my life and to let him go on his path, which goes beyond my reality, but knowing that there are ways and places where I can always find him.

How does the subject of hair fit symbolically?

Hair is a direct messenger of our body and our state of mind, as well as being the representatives of our aesthetic appearance. They are one of our ways of communicating. I am the link with the first chakra. In some cultures they are considered closely linked to spirituality, a symbol of strength and sexuality, with a role in rites of passage and witchcraft, as a channel of vital energy. They take on different symbols even in mourning, they are cut, left uncultivated or covered.

I chose them for all these reasons and also because in my work they became, of their own free will, the protagonist and, at the same time, the artist capable of creating interesting abstract works, if captured in the instant of movement.

Do you think this book can inspire women who have gone through the same experience as you?

I hope so with all my heart. Not just for women, but for men, fathers and even grandparents.

There is a lot unspoken and unfortunately a lot of taboo around similar experiences. There is an inherent tendency to remain silent. If I don’t talk about it or don’t hear about it it can’t happen to me. Or you are confronted with the stereotype of “It happened to you, it’s a shame”, that of “a relative time of sadness has passed, now turn the page and get back to your life”, that of “get busy as much as you can, so your head doesn’t think” , up to “but don’t feel so bad, you are young you will soon have another one”.

What I would like to convey with this work, which was born authentically, is precisely the freedom that everyone has, with a baggage like this (but not only), to say to each other, to become word or image or sound or movement. To believe that it is possible to tell pain, sadness and emptiness, deeply experienced, through beauty, with Other expressions and words.

What do you want for your near future?

I’m starting to dream of turning this collection into a performative work.

Bring it on stage as Solo, through the language of dance theater.

Using the same language, I would like to resume the work of running a laboratory and dedicate it to the elaboration of mourning, addressing it in particular to women.

But my biggest wish remains to be a mother again.

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