Darja Bajagić was born in 1990 in Podgorica, Montenegro. They use strategies for shifting contexts in order to complicate the consumption of images in their artworks. Bajagić’s works have been exhibited at the Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson; Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz; LUMA Westbau, Zurich; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Oaxaca.
Working with loaded topics such as death, sexuality, representation and violence, and incidents in which the four conflate, Darja Bajagić’s work comes from a position of moral ambiguity. Without the intention of being flippant, Bajagić intends to open up a space for the viewer to endure a process of interrogation and perhaps critique, as they consider situations of sticky moral complexity.
Formally their pieces are both brutal and seductive, often reinvigorating the aesthetics of minimalism through a variety of mediums including sculpture, video, installation, and expanded painting. Swathes of single colour, photographic elements and irregular shaped canvases that undo the rectangular standard are characteristic of Bajagić’s approach to expanded painting. The images they select and re-presents are borrowed from a range of sources such as fan-gore magazines, true-crime television shows, pornography, gore blogs and exclusively refer to their original context, including the names of the figures portrayed. Thus the works follow existing ‘real’, fictitious, but nonetheless specific, narratives that usually depict people in sexual or violent situations.
The works on display are two painting ‘fountains’ (they incorporate a motion activated liquid mechanism) titled Molly 4 (Dagger) and Molly 5 (Woods). They are part of a series of works that focus on Molly, the co-founder of a webzine that features a unique combination of eroticism, and occult imagery, which is broadcasted alongside poetry, reviews and interviews of black metal and death metal artists. Upon further investigation of the site’s content Bajagić realised that the interviews and poetry appeared to be merely a guise for the promotion of a right-wing agenda. The photographic cutouts depict a topless and blood-covered Molly looking directly into the camera with a seductive confrontational gaze. In the first she holds a dagger above her breast and in the second her arms are extended over her head. The photographic elements are mounted onto a black and red painted backdrop reminiscent of darkly bruised, mottled and bloodied skin. As viewers approach the works, a thin stream of blood drips from Molly’s mouth. The materiality and biological presence of the blood breaks the dyad of representational image, moving from the flat representation of a dead image to a dynamic and almost living durational hybrid where one can view the stream of drips and clotty accumulation in ‘real’ time. Regardless of one’s moral stance about the imagery and subject matter, it is undeniable that the images, and the scenes that circulate and fetishise this content, are not divorced from our violent society, and the slight line they toe between between fiction and reality and our simultaneous fascination and disgust are conditions felt at the centre of our cultural ontology.