Soviet, Sacred, Sexual:

The Carnivalised Architecture in Khrzhanovskiy’s DAU

Evgeniya Makarova
Before DAU the films, there was DAU the built environment, an architectural setting populated with flesh and bone, imbued with meaning, and endowed with agency. An eclectic, idiosyncratic, metamorphic and utterly sexualised architecture of nipples and vaginas, hands and legs, that both incarnates the Bakhtinian carnival and perpetuates it. Based on a series of with the project’s set designer Denis Shibanov, the present essay explores the grotesque architecture of DAUniverse with its ‘carnal’ Institute and the ephemeral ‘City in the Sky’. Without necessarily posing problematics or drawing specific conclusions, it considers Khrzhanovskiy’s cinematic artwork through a Bakhtinian lens, providing insights into the potency of its material culture.
Ilya Khrzhanovskiy; Mikhail Bakhtin; Denis Shibanov; Russia; Ukraine; Kharkiv; post-Soviet; DAU; heterotopia; grotesque; carnival; Soviet architecture; sculpture; Soviet material culture; body.


The Soviet (A)sexual

The Bakhtinian Grotesque

City in the Sky


The Sacred

The Carnival of the Oprichniki





Suggested Citation

I have observed that the pleasure-twats of women in this part of the world
are much cheaper than stones, therefore the walls of the city should be built of twats.

François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel1