Haunting the Rift – from Virginia Woolf to virtual reality

Street Haunting, an essay by Virginia Woolf written around 1930, describes a walk across London on the pretext of needing to buy a pencil. It attempts to track the writer’s footsteps in terms of the walker’s think-steps, or vice versa – an account of what the writer observes while she’s walking through the streets of Holborn and Covent Garden to the Strand, and what she imagines – basically, everything that goes through her head on her journey.

You could try to follow in the footsteps of Street Haunting by wandering down through Covent Garden yourself or even taking a walk through Google Street View to  Rymans on the Strand, but that wouldn’t put you into Woolf’s head in the same way, or immerse yourself in early 20th-century London through her eyes, whether you find that irritatingly precious or delight in the flow of her prose. Either way, Woolf aims to break with the normal experience of walking “wrapt … in some narcotic dream”, as the commuters heading home seem to do. She is lucky enough to have leisure time to indulge in a stroll through the streets – even if, as a tentative flaneuse rather than self-assured flaneur, she feels she has to have the excuse of buying a stationery item.

One image that stuck in my head is the way that Woolf talks about her eye as an independent being, pulling her along: “The eye is not a miner, not a diver, not a seeker after buried treasure. It floats us smoothly down a stream; resting, pausing, the brain sleeps perhaps as it looks.

In Street Haunting sight is the most important way of experiencing the world: her eye is what keeps Woolf “gliding smoothly on the surface” of the city, with its sights flowing through Woolf’s eye into her brain, swirling around, picking up all sorts of detritus and then trickling out through her hand (and the crucial pencil) onto the page; then flowing from the page through our eyes and into our brains – where it settles and sinks in.

thames shore

Of course this stream-of-consciousness effect is an illusion – Woolf’s essay is actually a highly structured and crafted piece of writing, the stream filtered, mediated and adulterated at every stage of its flow, even before it reaches the brain of the reader. And Woolf’s representation of thoughts and perceptions is very different from James Joyce’s, which in turn is miles away from Kerouac’s or Proust’s or Roberto Bolaño’s or Nicholson Baker’s.

But they’re all bound up with the modernist idea that the writer can and should strive to convey subjective experience as accurately as possible – recreate it for the reader to experience for themselves, across the gap of time and geography. The more I think about this the more disturbing I find it – there’s something peculiarly intimate and claustrophobic about getting inside someone else’s brain and seeing the world through their eyes.

The week I read Street Haunting, Facebook paid a big wad of money for Oculus, a company that develops virtual reality technology. Its Rift headset is supposedly the best attempt so far at a device that immerses its user in a virtual world – although it looks both silly and slightly alarming. Soon you can buy your own if you have £500 or so to spare – it will be on sale in John Lewis and Harrods from September – and try it out for yourself.


Oculus Rift was developed for gaming but Facebook’s acquisition of it has raised all sorts of ideas about what else it might be used for.  Oculus founder Palmer Luckey suggests: “People already spend hours a day on Facebook. What if it was truly engaging and immersive, rather than a filtered version of your real self?” And Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg says the Oculus Rift headset has the effect of making “you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people”. According to Zuckerberg, “By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”

So I could stay in my room in London and take a walk – sorry, share an adventure – with a friend in Moscow or Melbourne or Taipei or Tel Aviv or Ramallah or Madrid or Athens, by sending the free-floating eye of my VR headset out to glide along the currents of cyberspace. Is this the culmination of what Woolf and others like her were trying to do with their humble low-tech tools of words on paper?

Zuckerberg adds: “People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.” Which suggests that either the people he’s talked to have a rather limited experience of real life that precludes being actually present in places with other people, or it’s nothing like reality.

Chris Milk, who runs a VR production company called VRSE.works, also insists on calling a VR work an “experience” according to Wired magazine – although the magazine points out the technology is still at the stage where the virtual reality experience is cumbersome and sometimes vomit-inducing. The word “experience” comes from the Latin experientia “an experiment; knowledge gained by repeated trials” and was originally used in the context of observation as the source of knowledge, carrying the idea of looking closely at the world – which comes back to what Woolf seems to be attempting in Street Haunting.

What the VR pioneers skip over is that an experience involves more than the eye – walking through a city, for example, means hearing the sounds, smelling smells, sometimes tasting food or drink, touching textures, having aching muscles, sweating, getting wet in the rain or sunburnt or dirty as well as seeing the sights. Will VR’s next goal be to deliver an all-round, fully immersive experience, indistinguishable from the embodied experience of actually being in a real place? What happens to “real reality” if it manages to achieve that?

Virginia Woolf came up thanks to a walk around the West End with the Walking Reading Group .

Demolitions: A Progress Report

When Rich Mix in Bethnal Green gave the Demolition Project a slot in their Small Story/Big City performance strand it seemed like the ideal opportunity to review the project so far. Here’s a little piece about what we did for anyone who missed it…


When Rich Mix in Bethnal Green gave the Demolition Project a slot in their Small Story/Big City performance strand it seemed like the ideal opportunity to review the project so far. The date, 30 May, was almost exactly a year after we started the project and participants had made about 160 demolitions of all sorts of buildings, streets and areas in London. Here’s a little piece about what we did for anyone who missed it.

Demolitions: A Progress Report was a way for us to sum up the past year’s work on the project, using the participants’ own words to describe the demolitions they made and their reasons, illustrated with images (photos and video) of the maps, the demolition sessions and the “real” streets of London.

To compile the report, we started by collecting together all the reasons people had used to explain their demolitions of London over the past year.

We grouped them together into categories, then selected which ones we wanted to highlight as examples. Alisa photographed them all and took pictures of the holes that their destruction had left in the map. We went round taking more photos, of the sites we were planning to discuss and made some videos.

From all this, Debbie wrote a script and Alisa put together a slideshow, structured around nine demolitions but including lots more along the way and explaining the background to the project. What emerged was a story of our collective destruction of London. And we combined and consolidated a year’s worth of demolitions, cutting all the holes out of one map so we could show everyone the extent of the devastation. We unfolded this at the end and stuck it on the wall so that the audience could become participants by adding their own demolitions.

Feedback was very positive – but some people wanted more stories and more participation, so that’s definitely something to bear in mind the next time we do it.


Two maps

The Demolition Project began just over a year ago with a demolition session in ]performance space[, Hackney Wick.


These were some of the first demolitions carried out by participants, making a map of words and a map of holes … Tomorrow we mark a year of demolishing London with the launch of our progress report at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.

Where next for the Demolition Project? Watch this blog…

the liquid city

A project that proposes to re-establish an “intimate and playful link” between Londoners and the Thames raises the idea of moving through the city via its waterways.

In August 2013, one of the participants in the Demolition Project, Annalisa, decided to drain the Thames and fill it with blue Mediterranean water. Now we find that others are planning to turn the river into a swimming pool, as discussed by Ian Steadman in the New Statesman, who notes that “semi-wild swimming is a very London thing” (he cites Hampstead Heath ponds, the Serpentine and Shadwell Basin as examples).

The Thames Baths Project proposes to “re-establish an intimate and playful link between Londoners and the historic lifeblood of the city”. Led by architects Studio Octopi and landscape architects JCLA, its supporters include the Architecture Foundation (the project was submitted as a proposal in the foundation’s London As It Could Be Now: New Visions for the Thames competition) and the Outdoor Swimming Society, Jenny Landreth, who blogs about her goal to swim in all of London’s pools, and Amy Sharrocks, whose work has included walks tracing London’s ancient rivers, swimming across the city via its pools, and collecting water donations.

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It strikes me that swimming is often overlooked as a way of exploring or relating to the city – yet all cities are patterned with watery places, from manufactured canals, pools, fountains and reservoirs, to natural rivers, lakes, estuaries and sea-coast. The Outdoor Swimming Society has a great map of wild swimming in the UK with a surprising number of sites in London, liberating swimmers from lanes, footbaths and chlorine. In central London, where the water is nasty and the currents can be fierce, it’s considered dangerous to take a dip and in 2012 the Port of London Authority banned swimming without prior permission, so it’s probably not such a good idea to try it out in the Thames just yet. Some alternatives are listed below.

A great thing about the Thames Baths Project is that its stated aim is to to restore the Thames as a genuinely accessible public space. As the project points out, it has become increasingly difficult to use the Thames as river traffic has increased, building work has blocked access to the riverside, sewage has increased and the quality of the water has declined. The Thames has a long history of being a focal point for utopian projects – from Willey Reveley’s 1796 plan to straighten it, to HR Newton’s 1861 proposal to build locks across it to halt the tidal flow – and this may be just the latest. But we can dream.

It would be nice to share experiences of liquid locomotion in the city, whether paddling in fountains or wading through the canals…


• The Thames Baths Project

• Swimming in Hampstead ponds and in the Serpentine

Bring on the future: the joy (and pain) of demolitions

In 1929, the demolition of slums in an impoverished part of London known as “Little Hell” was a popular spectacle; 85 years later, a demolition of tower blocks in Glasgow will be part of the celebrations for the Commonwealth Games – but it faces a barrage of criticism. What lies behind the production of demolitions for public entertainment?

In 1929, the demolition of slums in Somers Town, an impoverished part of London behind Euston Station known as “Little Hell”, was turned into a spectacle. Huge, detailed models of the pests that infested the old housing – a cockroach, a rat, a flea and a bedbug – were made in cardboard and straw and piled up in a heap of rubble and half-demolished buildings, an audience gathered, the press were there to report on it and a retired general was brought in to set light to the pyre. The event provided a symbolic destruction of the houses and by extension the eradication of the area’s appalling living conditions, some of the worst in the capital at that time. Ben Campkin in his book Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture describes it as a “physical, performative and visually impressive act”.

The old slums were replaced by bright new social housing developments by the local council and St Pancras House Improvement Society, a housing association run by middle-class activists. The publicity for the demolitions was seen as a way of heralding a new era of hope and regeneration. There is no hint in the reports of the day that the demolitions were seen as anything other than positive – no suggestion they were criticised as the actions of misguided do-gooders and money-grubbing developers, or regretted by people who had lost their homes and community.

Eighty-five years later, a new demolition-spectacle is being planned by a housing association. Again, an audience is being gathered to witness the event and press will be there to document it for a wider public. Again, a notorious housing estate – this time, the Red Road towers in Glasgow (pictured above). The plan is to blow up five of the remaining six Red Road tower blocks, with film of the explosions shown live on giant screens in Celtic Park for the opening of the Commonwealth Games on 23 July.

The reasoning for the spectacle is very much the same as that of the 1929 conflagration in Somers Town.  Quoted in the Guardian, David Zolkwer, artistic director for Glasgow 2014, said: “It’s a bold and confident statement that says ‘bring on the future’.”

But this time there has been a flood of protest.

From Scottish newspaper the Herald:

While organisers said the ­demolition, the brainchild of ­creative teams within the ­organising committee, will make an “unforgettable statement” about Glasgow’s history and future, destroying buildings that were once home to thousands to provide a spectacle has been described as crass and offensive by critics.

Signatories to the petition [against the spectacle] have described the idea as vulgar, callous, arrogant and ghastly. Nicola Page, who spent her childhood in Red Road, wrote: “The world is now invited to laugh at and applaud the final death of the home that so many will mourn.”

The petition states that the demolition should instead be carried out “with dignity” and that the current plan would send out a message to asylum seekers in the one remaining tower that “they are not human enough to deserve decent housing”.

Alison Irvine, author of a novel about the Red Road estate, described the spectacle as “crude, insensitive, blunt” and accused the Glasgow 2014 committee of “trampling over the memories of people”.

Writing in the Scotsman, Joyce McMillan suggested the context of the spectacle, as part of the Commonwealth Games celebrations, “seems as uneasy and tasteless as it is bold”. She points out some other reasons for the hostile reactions:

The embrace of old and disused industrial spaces during 1990 was essentially an act of creative reinvention, and of imaginative tribute to the past; the spaces themselves were often beautiful, with a terrific melancholy grandeur, and the work created there was often breathtakingly powerful.

The demolition of Red Road, by contrast, is an act of outright destruction, and a highly ambiguous one. The flats may have been notorious … their design and construction was certainly part of the long decline of paternalistic municipal socialism, a shameful triumph of theory, ideology and influence over grass-roots democracy and common sense.

… It seems both problematic and strange to ask people to stand and cheer the destruction of such a large area of social housing at a time when the nation is in desperate need of cheap, affordable homes, and difficult to trust that the same council which built the flats in the first place, and its offshoot housing company GHA, will automatically replace the flats with something better.

It’s a view that contrasts with that of the organisers. According to Eileen Gallagher, the chair of Glasgow 2014’s ceremonies committee: “By sharing the final moments of the Red Road flats with the world, it is proving it is a city that is proud of its history but doesn’t stand still.” Gallagher describes the demolition-spectacle as a “celebration” of Glaswegians’ “tenacity, their genuine warmth, their ambitions”.

Perhaps in 1929 London, the idea of demolition as a bold celebration, of saying “Bring on the future”, held no irony and provoked no cynicism. Indeed, the estates that replaced the filthy, pest-ridden slums of Somers Town were designed by idealistic (if paternalist) architects and social workers who thought carefully about residents’ needs. Eight decades on, Britain has had more than enough experience of housing developments put up cheaply and quickly, motivated by profit, and now we are sceptical of grand statements of intent.

And maybe in 1929, there were also people resisting change, mourning the end of an era and the destruction of their homes; it’s just that they didn’t have a voice.



UPDATE 13 April

The demolition of the Red Road flats as a spectacle for the Commonwealth Games has been scrapped for “safety reasons” after an online petition protesting against it attracted thousands of signatures. From the Guardian:

In a statement, the Glasgow 2014 chief executive, David Grevemberg, said: “The demolition of Red Road will now not feature as part of the opening ceremony.”

Grevemberg said the decision was taken after opinions were expressed that “change the safety and security context”.

I wonder whether the sheer scale of the spectacle planned was what tipped the balance of disapproval – the Glasgow Housing Association which owned the flats had claimed 1.5bn people around the world would be watching the collapse of the 30-storey blocks on TV. Behind the display were the same good intentions that motivated the Little Hell demolitions –  Grevemberg claimed the idea was to tell “the story of Glasgow’s social history and regeneration” and the housing association said the demolition would “serve as a respectful recognition and celebration of the role the Red Road flats have played in shaping the lives of thousands of city families”. But instead of respect and celebration, the protesters spoke of the act as disrespectful, “disuniting”, ruthless and insulting; in the contest of emotions, their anger has won the day, and presumably the demolitions will go ahead out of the spotlight.


Some links

• Florence Foster talks about growing up in Little Hell in the early 20th century

• Photos on Flickr of present-day Somers Town

• The demolition of part of Red Road flats in 2012 – video

• Short history of Red Road flats 

Destroying monuments part two: smashing Lenins

There are more ways to reshape a city than demolishing, constructing and transforming buildings and infrastructure. Sometimes changes to smaller fragments of the city can have a powerful effect.

Recent events in Ukraine have highlighted monuments’ political potency, suggesting that they can be so deeply embedded in the identity of a place they become a natural focus and flashpoint when that identity is threatened with radical change. There has been coverage internationally of the destruction of statues of Lenin in Ukraine following the smashing of the monument in Independence Square in Kiev by pro-European and nationalist protesters. There are online maps showing the places where about 100 similar relics of the Soviet era have been attacked and pulled down.

Srecko Horvat, writing in the Guardian, points out that the destructions were foreshadowed by a virtual demolition in 2011, when a promotional video for Ukraine digitally erased the statue of Lenin in Liberty Square in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, leaving only an empty plinth.

Such erasures of history happen whenever there is far-reaching political change – and the collapse of communism in eastern Europe at the end of the 20th century brought the smashing or removal of monuments on a large scale. Horvat remembers the widespread destruction of remnants of the Tito era as Yugoslavia disintegrated. “In the period from 1990 to 2000 at least 3,000 monuments were torn down in Croatia alone,” he says.

Elsewhere, Soviet-era monuments were displaced from their sites and corralled into holding pens or theme parks – which in turn have become tourist sites. Budapest has Memento Park, designed as an educational resource-cum-propaganda tool (as Hungary’s president said: “The Statue Park utilizes politically neutral means of art to emphasize the dignity of democracy and the responsibility of historical thinking.” Lithuania has Stalin’s World (officially called Grutas Park); Russia itself has Fallen Monument Park in Moscow.

In Ukraine, too, many statues from Soviet times were taken down after it became an independent state in 1991; others were replaced with ones of the country’s national hero, the poet Taras Shevchenko. But plenty remained until the latest round of regime change.

In fact Kiev’s Lenin had been a focus of conflict at least as far back as 2009, when the then president Viktor Yushchenko had called for the country to “cleanse itself” of Communist symbols. The statue was vandalised and mutilated, leading to street brawls that spotlighted the divisions in society. But it wasn’t just pro-Russian Ukrainians who rushed to its defence –  Denis Vertov made an eloquent argument for preserving the monument for the sake of art history.

With the fall of Yanukovych, Lenins in Kiev and the west of the country fell like dominoes – at one point the Lenin in Kiev’s Independence Square was replaced by a golden toilet as a satirical comment, then by an artwork made up of golden mannequins. Meanwhile in the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine, they continued to preside – the old revolutionary now standing for the status quo, nostalgia, the past or the Russian motherland. In Kharkiv, for example – once the capital of Soviet Ukraine, where Russian speakers are in the majority – crowds defended the statue of Lenin against supporters of the new government who sprayed it with graffiti, in a standoff that lasted for more than a week.

But alongside the ideological reasons, perhaps there is also truth in the reason given by Andrei Borodavka, a Kharkiv journalist and anti-Euromaidan activist: “Lenin is the place where you meet girls for a date. Or where you go after your school graduation. Newly-weds visit Lenin too. He’s in our memories.”

Does a monument come into its own only when it is taken for granted, used as a landmark or meeting point and photographed by tourists as a picturesque historic sight? The suggestion is that Kharkiv’s Lenin (and others like it) is so much a part of Kharkiv that its removal would threaten the memories and identity of its residents – it has become detached from the story of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin himself as a historical figure and melded with the fabric of the city. It’s hard to take this at face value – the political aspects of the statue’s installation and preservation are surely embedded in its meaning just as firmly as those teenage dates and school graduation photos. But equally, the everyday functions of monuments should not be forgotten; when they are destroyed, part of a citizen’s personal past is ripped away alongside the reshaping of the city’s political and social history.

Part one of this piece looked at a monument recreated with its own destruction built into the design.



Destroying monuments part one: the dissolving city

Monuments are always more than decorative fragments of the urban scene. Here’s a public artwork that stirs up questions about their meaning, the transience of fame and “the bubble reputation” of those commemorated.

I found out the other day that Butcher Cumberland was still hanging round Cavendish Square. That’s not his official title – properly speaking, he’s called Written in Soap: a Plinth Project – but Butcher was the nickname of Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, who sits astride a horse in the middle of the square, just behind John Lewis. He’s an effective piece of public art by Korean artist Meekyoung Shin that raises all sorts of questions about the nature and purpose of monuments.

At first glance, Written in Soap is a standard equestrian statue. It looks like stone, it sits comfortably on a stone plinth and there is a little plaque telling you that it was erected in 1770. The thing is, although it was put up as a statue to the hero of the the 1746 battle of Culloden, it was taken down under a century later for political reasons, after the Duke of Cumberland had gained a shocking reputation for brutal killings and plunder (hence the nickname) and his hero status had become too tarnished to justify public memorialising. The plinth was bare until 2012, when a remarkably convincing imitation of the original was erected, in soap crafted to look exactly like weathered stone.

Written in Soap is designed to weather rather faster than stone, of course. The project was supposed to last a year, but it has worn better than expected – although the supporting metal armature is now sticking through the washed-away surface in several places – and in contrast to the original, public demand is apparently responsible for the decision to leave it in place.

I never consciously noticed the absence of a statue when I used to walk through Cavendish Square, but I remember being shocked when I first registered its presence – a man on a horse had appeared from nowhere yet it looked as if it had been there for centuries. I would have been less disturbed to see a new building – sometimes central London can seem like one giant construction site – but a modest, unassuming monument slipping into place seemed like a much bigger deal, as if I had stepped into a parallel, subtly different world, like someone in a Philip K Dick story.

Written in Soap is a work with many layers. You can simply appreciate the skill in its making or enjoy the joke it makes around the nature of the material, which convincingly imitates stone in appearance while having the opposite qualities in terms of resilience, while perhaps “washing away” the Butcher’s war crimes along with his presence. Or you can see it as a commentary on the transience of fame and “the bubble reputation” (the Duke of Cumberland went from hero to villain within a century and, before his fatty resurrection, was largely forgotten, at least in England, although in Scotland the project stirred up some anger among nationalists), or as a work that engages with the meaning of monuments and their presence in the cityscape. At the very least, it made me look twice, which is more than many works of art achieve.

But, while Written in Soap certainly looks like a monument does it qualify as one, or is it a piece of public art. And is there a difference?

In his book Written in Stone, which was one of Meekyoung Shin’s inspirations, Sanford Levinson writes that “a public monument represents a kind of collective recognition – in short, legitimacy – for the memory deposited there”. A monument is always more than just a decorative fragment of the urban scene, it’s an argument in an ongoing debate over history – what monuments depict, who decides when and where to erect them, what values are embedded in them, are all important questions.

Yet London is overrun with public statues and few people really notice them. Apparently, there are so many monuments and memorials in a part of central London between Whitehall and St James’s that Westminster council has declared in a “monument saturation zone”. But how many of us really see them or know what they represent? Even in Trafalgar Square, the central spot in the capital for people to congregate in celebration or protest, there are three plinths that tend to be overlooked, although most know that Admiral Nelson is on top of the column in the middle and that the “fourth plinth” in the north-west corner is the site of a succession of new commissions. But whose statues are on the other three? (King George IV, Sir Henry Havelock and Sir Charles Napier if you’re interested – and I had to resort to Google to discover that the latter two were 19th-century army bigwigs who played important roles in Britain’s rule over India.) How long would it take for anyone to spot the difference if they were replaced overnight?

Perhaps this is a reflection of how relaxed Londoners – and maybe the English as a whole – feel about their identity – the Scots’ reaction to the resurrection of Butcher Cavendish shows this complacency isn’t universal in Britain. Or perhaps it’s to do with the fall from fashion of the “Great Man” view of history, or of figurative art in the west – certainly more recent monuments and memorials in London have tended to be non-figurative. Elsewhere, the survival and significance of statues has been a very different story.

Part two of this piece looks at the smashing up of monuments that refuse to gently dissolve in the rain, in countries where national identity is far hotter issue.

• Thanks to Jonathan Polkest for reminding me about Written in Soap: A Plinth Project. For more on the artwork and Meekyoung Shin, see the website and Facebook page


High Voltage Research Centre

In the middle of the woods by Istra, not that far from Moscow, you can find a strange structure.

In the middle of the woods by Istra, not that far from Moscow, you can find a strange structure. It is a test bench where scientists study the lightening. It is still working but you can organise an official visit to it and a very nice old gentlemen will talk for hours with you about the lightening. If you are lucky he will even show an artificial lightening to you.

More information here

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Photos by Alisa Oleva

a return to Dzerzhinsk

Due to Russian climate you can see everything through two different filters: covered in white snow during winter and surrounded by green trees in summer. The abandoned buildings look especially different depending on the season.

Due to Russian climate you can see everything through two different filters: covered in white snow during winter and surrounded by green trees in summer. The abandoned buildings look especially different depending on the season. This is why we decided to re-visit the Zarya factory in Dzerzhinsk again in July. It was totally worth it. And, as usual with such huge abandoned sites, we discovered new buildings and rooms we did not get into during our first visit.

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Photos: Alisa Oleva

reclaiming Nevsky Prospect for pedestrians

“There is nothing better than Nevsky Prospect, at least for Saint Petersburg; it simply constitutes everything for the city”, – this is how Nikolay Gogol described the main street of Saint Petersburg in his book.

“There is nothing better than Nevsky Prospect, at least for Saint Petersburg; it simply constitutes everything for the city”, – this is how Nikolay Gogol described the main street of Saint Petersburg in his book.

In July 2013 Nevsky Prospect has undergone planned reconstruction which involved closing part of the street for cars during the weekend. This allowed to make it available for pedestrians’ use during that time. The citizens admired it entirely: hundreds of people were walking, drawings with chalk, playing instruments and making small performances. It even encouraged an initiative to try and convince the city administration to make the main street of the city available for pedestrians on every weekend in the future.

While it remains unlikely that this will ever happen, it is a curious example of how a moment of destruction during which the roads were ploughed up to put new asphalt, created an impulse and possibility for regaining part of one’s own city.

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the second photo says: “Be a Pedestrian!” and the third: “Nevsky to the Pedestrians”

Photos: Alisa Oleva