Jana Romanova was born in 1984 in Russia. She has a degree in journalism from Saint-Petersburg State University and studied contemporary art at PRO ARTE foundation in a School for Young Artists, Saint-Petersburg, Russia and in 2019 started an MA in Photography and Society at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, The Netherlands. Jana Romanova works with photography and video to accomplish both her projects and assignments around the world, at the moment she is based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
Romanova’s long-term projects were exhibited at various international exhibitions and festivals such as Format (Derby, UK), Chobi Mela (Dakha, Bangladesh), Cortona on the Move (Italy), Encontros da Imagem (Braga, Portugal), the Backlight Festival (Tampere, Finland), Encuentros Abietros Festival (Buenos Aires, Argentina) “Perchance to Dream” at Andrea Meislin Gallery (New York, USA) among many. She got several prizes and honourable mentions in photography all over the world. In 2014 British Journal of Photography included her in the list of young promising photographers “Ones to Watch”, and in 2016 she was selected as a participant of Joop Swart Masterclass by World Press Photo.
The exhibition became a way to think about the position of women in contemporary Russia. In places where the rights for men and women are still not equal, this interpretation of gender-based stereotypes into forms of irrational power could give women the means to gain control over their lives. Moreover, the project becomes an investigation into the need to believe in magic, irrational powers and a mean of reaching happiness by effortlessly fulfilling our wishes.
When Romanova was a child, she was often told “Girls don’t wear wrinkled clothes” or “ Don’t climb trees, you’re a girl”. Never questioning these statements until becoming an adult when she heard from relatives that she was not very feminine and that this could be the source of all her problems. After googling how to become more feminine she found Russian learning courses that taught women a certain feminine way of living and interacting with the world: what kind of clothes to wear, how to follow the moon calendar, how to breathe with your womb, how to create magic and change reality around you.
Jana Romanova visited these classes to get her own experience and to see if she could understand what femininity is – and if she could herself become more feminine. Being taught by more than 50 women coaches she met in a year in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg that ‘When a woman becomes feminine, she can get everything she needs only by thinking about it. Every woman can have this power, You can also have it if you want. The only thing you need is to accept who you are and learn how to raise your feminine energy’.
The project consists of several types of documentation. The central part of the exhibit showed portraits of different coaches who were asked what femininity is and some text of their stories. A Video projection showing documentation of practices they offered Romanova to experience to gain feminine energy. And in the video performance on the TV where she shared this feminine energy with everyone who wants to receive it, after the theory that every woman has a magic power as soon as she accepted her true self.
In the smaller room of the exhibit consisted ‘W’ which explored the concept of beauty and femininity in the modern society, in this series of self-portraits Romanova asked different you women to choose poses for a portrait and then copied them, standing nearby or in the background. Her attempts to perform exact replicas of their poses and expressions address the attitude to a woman’s body in society and the role photography plays in it.
She has since worked on projects such as ‘Ophidiophobia’, which means the fear of snakes, one of the most common animal phobias in Europe and how yet many people keep snakes at home as pets. In Russia, this became possible and relatively popular after the fall of the Soviet Union. As well as ‘Adopted Welsh’ where Jana Romanova experimented with her own identity and tried to become Welsh, following advice from local people.