Daria Pugachova is an artist, performer and art activist born in Rivne, Ukraine. In her projects, Daria uses participatory practices to unite community and integrate art into daily life. She works site-specifically in public spaces with performance, video and socially engaged arts. Her artistic approach lies in the presence of the artist and direct interaction with the audience.
Daria studied architecture at Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture. From 2013 to 2019 she played drums in a female pop trio Panivalkova. After the musicians split up she dived into the field of performance art. Daria’s latest projects are based on her experience of war. She explores the topic of freedom and limitation and tries to push people to their emotional limits to heal.
She has taken part in exhibitions in Ukraine, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Poland and the USA. In 2022 she won the Golden Aesop Grand Prix at the 25th Gabrovo Biennial in Bulgaria. She is a finalist of Circa x Dazed Class of 2022 and a winner of the Piccadilly Lights Prize 2022; her video Microcosmos was shown on Piccadilly Lights in London. In 2022 she participated in residencies in Bulgaria (Radar Sofia, ContextAiR) and Norway (PRAKSIS).
"In my current work, I am focusing on how to use performance as a tool to heal emotional pain and process trauma. At the Salzburg Summer Academy and the PRAKSIS residency in Oslo, I led several workshops on pain and sadness. Working with voice, body and ritual, we discovered our inner wounds and made a symbolic journey from a state of limitation to freedom.
We performed in abandoned spaces such as a concrete bunker in the forest and the ruins of a medieval monastery on the Hovedøya island in Oslo (pictured). By performing in these destroyed places, we awaken them and activate the space with our energy and care.
Especially because of war, I find that performance is such a powerful tool to support people and help them get through these extremely difficult experiences in their lives. Performance creates a safe space where people can be present together, feel vulnerable, and at the same time not be judged. As an artist, I want to offer people this space, guide them through it, and then step aside so they can see their wisdom."
"I WILL WAKE UP WHEN THIS FOUNTAIN IS FILLED UP" - performance, Rivne, Ukraine, 2021
"For this project, I returned to my hometown to perform in the destroyed Thumbelina fountain, a place of my childhood memories and dreams. I slept in the fountain while residents of Rivne could enter the space and fill it with life: paint on the walls, read a fairy tale, sing a song or fill in the questionnaire about the future of the fountain. After two days, the depressing image of the fountain had completely transformed, it turned into a stage, a place of freedom and expression, where everyone who entered the fountain was considered an artist.
During the performance, we collected about 300 questionnaires in which people of all ages shared their memories of Thumbelina and expressed different opinions about how this place could function in the future. Finally, the mayor of the city promised to repair the fountain in 2022. But everything had changed with the war…"
"MICROCOSMOS" - multidisciplinary, Poltava, Ukraine, 2021-2022
Microcosmos is a documentary project about life in the post-Soviet neighborhood of Polovky in Poltava (Ukraine) made at the end of 2021. The artist roams the neighborhood as an astronaut. She talks with residents about their dreams, life, and memories of their childhood in the yards. After the encounters the artist performs at a stadium, launching their dreams out to space.
The courtyard is a model of the universe.
People are like planets in it; each has its orbit.
Tell me about your yard; tell me about your dream.
We will launch it into the sky.
I am a part of the cosmos,
just like you.
“I came up with the idea of ‘microcosmos’ when I came back to my hometown, to the yard where I grew up. I noticed that life there is the same, as I remembered it. And even some of my peers from childhood were sitting on the same bench, only now they were grown-ups. So I was thinking about what makes one person explore the universe and go beyond the borders. And some people just stay in their ‘small cosmos’ for their whole life. My answer was ‘a dream’. A dream makes you move forward through life. If you continue dreaming, this inner fire makes you explore the whole universe”.
The premiere of Microcosmos took place in Poltava in February 2022 at the Jump gallery. At the exhibition, Daria presented a 40-minute movie, a series of portraits of the residents, and an astronaut's suit with patches that embodied their dreams. In two weeks, Russia started a war in Ukraine, and the exhibition was closed. At the end of March Daria left Ukraine and came to Bulgaria to continue her work as an artist. There she managed to deliver objects of Microcosmos from Ukraine and opened the exhibition again in the KO-OP, Sofia. In the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, she presented the film in front of the ruined soviet cinema Cosmos as part of the Context AiR residency.
In the Fall, Daria participated in the international contest CIRCA x Dazed Class of 2022 in London. Microcosmos was shown on Piccadilly Lights in London, as well as in Berlin, Seoul, and Melbourne on the big screens around the cities. With more than 7000 public votes, Daria won the public award Piccadilly Lights Prize receiving a grant for her future projects.
Daria Pugachova, MICROCOSMOS, 2022. CIRCA x Dazed Class of 2022. Photo Josef Beeching (2) (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, MICROCOSMOS, 2021-2022. Still from the video (3) (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, Shelter for Freedom, International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in Salzburg, 2022. Workshop. Photo: Anna Aicher (3) (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, Shelter for Freedom, International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in Salzburg, 2022. Photo: Anna Aicher (4) (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, Room of Sadness, PRAKSIS, 2022. Photo_ Nastassja Nefjodof (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, Room of Sadness, PRAKSIS, 2022. Photo: Nastassja Nefjodof (3) (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, “I Will Close the Sky So You Could Breathe”, still from the video, 2022 (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, I WILL WAKE UP WHEN THIS FOUNTAIN IS FILLED UP, 2021. Performance. Photo: Elena Rabkin (2) (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, I WILL WAKE UP WHEN THIS FOUNTAIN IS FILLED UP, 2021. Performance. Photo: Elena Rabkina (4) (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, I WILL WAKE UP WHEN THIS FOUNTAIN IS FILLED UP, 2021. Performance. Photo: Elena Rabkina (3) (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, MICROCOSMOS, 2022. Multidisciplinary. KO-OP, Sofia. Photo: RadLab Studio (© Daria Pugachova)
Daria Pugachova, Sky of War, 2022. Installation, variable size. © Swimming Pool and the artist. Photo: Dobrin Kashavelov (2)