This article narrates the politics of escape from borders and labour discipline in a post-Soviet migrant metropolis drawing on the art-activism project Nasreddin in Russia. It explores the relation between control and autonomy in urban migrations through a trans-aesthetics: a set of visual and verbal stories weaving together experiences and outcomes of the art project with academic debates on late capitalist urbanization. The encounter of artistic practices and migrants’ embodied, everyday struggles to inhabit the city, it is suggested, has potential for disrupting the disciplinary and exclusionary effects of capitalist transformations and migration enforcement. This is made visible through transient spaces of escape in which the everyday lives and social worlds of migrants, constrained by the precarization of labour and by the multiplication and diversification of bordering practices, are reclaimed through laughter, mobility and care. This point is illustrated by focusing on three such spaces and practices: trickster politics in the housing market, acts of disidentification and care work on the city ‘as a body.’ The article offers a methodologically innovative contribution to ongoing debates on aesthetic political economy, cities and borders and artistic and activist interventions in global cities.