I regret I'm not a roof,
falling apart little by little,
which the rain soaks and softens,
whose death is not sudden.
I don't like the fact that I'm mortal,
I regret that I am not perfect
Alexander Vvedensky, 1934
And water the rubber plant
The Wildlife Corner project presents the old part of Nizhny Novgorod city in a new light. Wooden buildings are regarded not from architectural perspective, or that of urban development, history or regional study; a large block of studies is already dedicated to these themes. Printed and electronic editions, social networks offer a lot of information on objects of cultural heritage – existing, lost or vanishing. In the future the Nizhny Novgorod audience will have numerous remarkable books and albums offering documentation and reconstruction of the city at the turn of different centuries. Visual art, and especially photography, contributes significantly to preservation of "knowledge" about the city: what that street or that house used to look like… And yet the authors of the Wildlife Corner set a completely different task for themselves.
It is suggested to the audience to enjoy the city here and now. Whether it will survive tomorrow or perish; now it exists as a unique opportunity – a chance to see, think, feel, and do. Here, a form and material have not yet lost their natural ability to grow, become mature, get old and die, fertilizing soil for new life. What is occurring might seem sad and unjust, but biologically expedient. It might even be assumed that Nizhny Novgorod in its current condition is one big art project about life and death, which has no place for chance plots, forms, colors and materials, but which has persistent images and leading motifs.
Vladislav Efimov is an ideal researcher; he has all the necessary tools of an artist, photo artist and photographer at his hand. Balancing on the edge between contemporary art and photography, Efimov is capable of perceiving the city from different angles, revealing architectural features of particular buildings, as well as general characteristic of the wooden urban environment. Photo, wood and plants are the major elements of the Wildlife Corner exhibition for a reason. Photography – strictly architectural and expressly artistic – provides knowledge about color and form. Wood – assemblages made of fragments of collapsed houses which remind of Vladimir Tatlin's works – present material, texture and its condition. Pot plants – the sort which can be met almost on every windowsill – imply ecological compatibility of the wooden city and naturalness of young sprouts emerging on old ruins.
The Wildlife Corner installation can be compared to pure concentrate of the wooden Nizhny Novgorod, micro model of urban ecosystem. Whether wooden houses ("touchwood" as they are referred to by local citizens) will be restored or demolished, whether the fate of the "old city" concept will be positive or tragic, natural flow of life at the corner will be inevitable broken. But Efimov's corner will live forever. The main thing is not to forget to water the plants!