In our backyard

 Photo report from courtyards in Novosibirsk that have been given a trashy face-lift by their residents  08/11/2013, 21:35
In our backyard
Photos by Andrei Grebnev and Vera Chuprova-Bondar

According to the calculations of Novosibirsk authorities, every single courtyard in the city will have been renovated by 2015. To cope with such an ambitious task, officials do not skimp and spend almost a billion rubles a year, while residents hastily landscape the areas around their houses with homemade designs using everyday items. Swans made from tyres, washbowl mushrooms, plastic bottle pigs, flower beds in buckets and soft toys nailed to trees — Sib.fm’s correspondents assessed the craving for beauty shown by active citizens in the most marvellous corners of Novosibirsk.

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In 2011, Vladimir Putin presented Mayor of Novosibirsk Vladimir Gorodetsky with a second degree diploma confirming the city’s title of the most well-appointed town in Russia. In his congratulatory speech, the Prime Minister paid tribute not only to the mayor, but also to ordinary people — and rightly so. Each year, more and more astounding and paradoxical sculptures created by local jacks-of-all-trades spring up in playgrounds and recreational areas, where they live side by side with swings and benches, frame rubbish bins and replace fencing.

In just a few years, «backyard» art has outgrown its light-hearted provincial label to become a national response to the question — how can we make Russia a comfortable place to live?

975 million rubles ($29.6m) have been allocated for landscaping in Novosibirsk for 2013

According to its creators, this amateur décor is easy on the eye and makes time spent in courtyards more comfortable. Meanwhile, the plastic and metal trash-art, brought to life by residents’ efforts, changes harmless areas into a nature reserve of anthropomorphism and hauntology: plants and street infrastructure are endowed with the properties of living beings, «become animate» and decorate themselves — the spirit of volunteer work and the spectre of landscape design hovers over the courtyards. During the day, the psyche of children and pets are exposed to various threats in these places, at night — public utility workers. At dusk, portals to hell open up.

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