It’s a small report on our second day at Voykovskaya on Florian Rivier’s workshop Urban ConQuest.
We’ve been very anxious to come back after the great fun we had on the first day when we made an “Ochko-basket” instead of a broken basketball ring. This day we renewed it by adding layers of yellow and blue tape to the paper balls. In case you are going to make your own: balls with cramped paper inside are better than just cramped tape, and fly more steadily.
We had a lot of plans for the second day, including: a pop-up art studio or trees memorials on the tree stumps near the tram tracks, the renewal of an old pool-like children’s place, using metal nets for pop-up lunch bags and get-the-ball-on-the-rubber-string-into-papercup portable game etc., but first and foremost we wanted to make a hammock.
The thing is, we found similarly useless low fence made of metal tubes in the area where many people complained about lack of sitting places. Funny sidenote: when we were asking people about their preferred outdoor games, men talked about ball games and card games, but women tended to talk only about the games their children played. To the direct question about their own preferred game activities, they replied “We grew out of it”. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it is sad nevertheless. Anyway, the lack of comfortable seats worried everybody.
For the hammock we used green fabric net from the construction site, which the workers kindly allowed us to take. Thank you again, if by any chance you are reading this=) To make a stronger frame, we used ordinary string, and wrapped the green net two or three times around the frame and the fence. We managed to get a strong and comfortable seat which literally everyone can reproduce.
Here we had our first unfriendly encounter with local citizens. Well, second, actually if we count a police/paramilitary guy who asked us to remove the yellow tape graffitti from their fence, but he wasn’t angry personally, just scared of the higher-ups. But back to our hammock: a guard of the local housing community partnership (ТСЖ) ran out of the building and in a very unfriendly manner told us to “clean up” as if we left trash behind. The hammock was clean, its purpose – to be a seating place – was made clear by the sticker (designed by the team of the OK-RM Pop-Up workshop) left on it and by the seating forms left by our try-outs of the thing. We tried to clarify it to the guard that we meant no harm – quite the opposite, we were addressing the neighbourhood’s concern, but he wasn’t listening. Apart from the “because I told you so” reasoning, he mentioned that ”the fence was there to prevent cars from parking on the grass”, and that the hammock was somehow obstructing this purpose.
We all understand that it wasn’t, and that our intervention made the fence more functional, not less. So what was he really angry about? Just a grumpy guard with a liking for the little power he has? Couldn’t he really believe that a group of young people can leave something good and useful behind rather than trash? Would his reaction be the same if we put an ordinary bench-y looking bench? If a more ordinary bench would be welcome, then why – why not one which can be easily replicated? Maybe he was afraid that this new unconventional seat will attract “antisocial elements”? But any tube-fence is enough for sitting if you are beyond caring about the state of your surroundings. We do not know the answers, but we’ll be glad if you can share your thoughts and experience.
Then Make Makovich joined us, and drew a lovely glass out of the concrete stuff which was blocking the way near the construction site.
With him we ventured into areas further from metro. On our way we noticed that local authorities must have begun their own improvements, and hired workers to paint the construction fence (lots of construction going in these parts, if you noticed) into red and white – almost as in the Alice in Wonderland. Once again, our spontaneous idea was met with friendly help: we wanted to make a checker board out of a 4×8 square tiles area. The workers gladly shared their paint and tools, and in a matter of minutes our team was covering the tiles in red and white layers. “What is it, a paint PR campaign?” wondered one passer-by. Almost, but not quite: we just want you to have and use similar ideas, dear distrustful passer-by =)
Now we just need to find suitable chess or checkers pieces, and are open to inspirations: bottles, traffic cones, you name it.
On Thursday and Friday we plan to hack the metallic net under the bridge, to make proper eyes and mouth for strange roadblocks, etc. But reality often intervenes into our plans as we intervene into it)
In any case, we will be back to Voykovskaya on Thursday and Friday, and on Wednesday we are hacking Strelka. Stay tuned for what we will do, and for possible hacks of distant and abandoned stadiums : )