Written by Yulia Yousma

Translated by Elias Seidel

The well-known fabulator and artist Dagnini is an heiress to a country that consistently fails to keep up with democracy while navigating the free market and the global merging of the internet with the physical world. Online and offline realms twine together, generating masses of sedating content, errors, glitches, meaningless and self-defeating scenarios, and social inequality—but also great care for ethics and morality. Dagnini’s work channels the whole mess, all these carnivalesque stirrings of life. She has created a bestiary’s worth of performance characters drawn from memes, games, the innocent early days of the internet, images of bewildered inhabitants of Russia from the 1990s, Hollywood melodramas, and her own phobias and projections.

Dagnini works in performance, installation, painting, drawing, embroidery, and video. But Dagnini is her own greatest work, an ongoing document of all that goes on. A four-legged stripper without a head, a comedic stairwell-dwelling gopnik1 with gargoyle wings made out of rubber gloves, the Lion of Venice sewn from knock-off Versace fabric, an uncomely rainbow growing out of training potties—her incarnations always appear when the viewer least expects them, sabotaging a reality sterilized by common sense. All her creatures possess a distinctive fluidness. They swap attributes with one another; their identities are often hard to pin down, if they resemble humans at all. They exist in multiple environments at once, circulating between the digital veil and physical reality. Lodging themselves in our consciousness as forms both impossible and unnatural, funny and frightening, these offspring of synthetic reality become the tools of Dagnini’s artistic shock therapy. Her performances’ visual dissonance and trenchant vitality allow them to push buttons and subvert social norms. The deceitfully decorative appearance of her projects works as bait, pulling viewers into a zone in which our universal defenselessness before the onslaught of worldwide madness is fully apparent.

With Summit (2020), all the artist’s hypostases now have the chance to meet face-to-face. Dagnini’s incarnations will ride for eternity—or until the domain turns to dust—on a digital carousel, raising a ruckus and playing tricks, compressing, expanding, and parodying themselves. In their journey around this vicious circle, they obsessively relive collective traumas and triumphs without end. Indeed, the process can never be completed: reality constantly dissolves and reassembles before our eyes; the future will never arrive. As contemporary philosophy suggests, any future is impossible outside of the capitalist system in which we are entrenched and its incessant overproduction of images, commodities, and meanings.


1 A slang term for white, lower-class, provincial youths in Russia.