Disk (D:)
Solo show at Fragment Gallery
April 24th 2019
Disk (D:)
Fragment Gallery
Gallery's website

Fragment Gallery presents Dagnini's first personal exhibition in Moscow. The Disk (D:) project is dedicated to nostalgia for the age of mass distribution of ОС Windows 95/98 and to the political turmoil in Russia in the '90s.

The exhibition includes new artworks from the series «Windows», started in 2017. Canvas, murals and hand-embroidered tapestries are gathered by the artist in a total installation that refers to an average entrance hall in a typical Russian apartment block. It is a traditional meeting place for generations of teenagers. Similarly to Disk (D:), this space accumulates various types of information, gets clogged up and over time is formatted by the housing office's sporadic efforts and by residents in particular. In this project Dagnini refers more particularly to the emotional experience of living through and reflecting on the age that will be formatted by history books very soon. Mixing digital and real, she offers her own view of time when the internet was innocent and Klondike (Solitaire) became a kind of shelter for a whole generation of apolitical people.

About Disk (D:) on Meduza


Im leaving.bmp / Canvas, acrylic 2018
Why do you need Disk (D:)?

I took the title from the otvet.mail.ru. website. They know everything there.
The general opinin is as follows: Disk C (C :) is a system one, that is, for the most important things, and Disk D (D :) - I will quote a user named Chupa - "for some trash (music, photos, movies, etc.)". It seems to me that an average Internet user this way could designate any exhibition of contemporary art, and perhaps this is a good starting point for understanding Dagnini's exhibition.

The exposition is unmistakably recognizable as an example of the eruption of the digital world into the real one. But this is not another exhibition tagged "post-Internet". It's not the internet that inspires Dagnini's work, the artist doesn't pull web content into the gallery space. Windows 95 and 98. It was the 1995 version that was installed on most personal computers when they began to fill apartments and offices en masse. And it must be underlined that their appearance in the life of Russians coincided with the appearance of "dear Russians" themselves, as their first president Boris Yeltsin called them during his New Year's address to the citizens of the newly created Russian Federation. So his portrait here in the exhibition is not at all accidental, and neither is the burning parliament building. The new operating system was installed not only on computers, but also to manage the lives of its users. And it was just as unstable as the brand new Windows. The user experience of interaction with each of them is a series of repeated failures. And the burning White House in such a system of coordinates is the image of a system error.

Dagnini repeats from project to project: at the moment of inception, virtual life was simple and even innocent. You could sit in front of the computer screen and, for example, play solitaire, finding yourself, nevertheless, in a different reality. And then you could simply leave it, just by turning off the computer. There was a visible distance, a clear separation. Today, the world on the other side of the screen absorbs you entirely and has a huge impact on what you feel on this side of it. For a while, the virtual space was even free from politics, and now this is a field of decisive action and the battle of everybody with each other. There is no longer any trace of this simplicity and innocence, but the exhibition is motivated by nostalgia for the time when everything was different.

But let's go back to the incessant eruption of digital to material. The virtual is materialized by means of objects - canvases and tapestries, presented in the exhibition. There is a temptation to talk about «fake objects» (trompe-l'œil) - images that seem to be real volumetric objects, being painted on a flat surface. The oldest of preserved fakes are false windows on the walls of houses in Pompey. But still, it can hardly be considered as the deceptions that imitate what we have seen, but don't exist in reality outside of additional devices - screens and projections. Here it is, a picture that wants to look like a screen in which Paint is opened, in which a burning White House is painted. Perhaps the artists create such objects, because they grew up knowing that things like paintings made in programs such as Paint exist, because they have experienced them in childhood.

This is part of the visual experience, and the fact that they are not present in reality is simply a misunderstanding that needs to be corrected. The newly acquired materiality of such images is quite unsteady; therefore Dagnini tries to emphasize it, literally, with her own hands. For the artist it is important to draw each pixel of each element on the canvas and stitch each tapestry by making it look like a low resolution image downloaded from the internet. The effect does not let us forget where this image came from - it remains "faithful" to its digital nature.
With all its external density, the Disk (D :) does not seem to be overloaded. In contrast to Chupa, we cannot call this thoroughly verified collection of ideas and images trash. Before us is a successful interpretation of an important visual experience that has influenced a whole generation, and a bright attempt to find a moment in the recent past when the world changed and became the way we know it now.

Ilya Shipilovskikh

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