Russian artist Daria Makarenko slips hidden messages into the cracks of the city.

Russian artist Daria Makarenko must be nuts at Tetris. She's been playing a real-life version of the game for a couple years now, quietly filling the gaps of urban walls with custom-made ceramic nodules.

When Makarenko, who's based in St. Petersburg, spies a missing hunk of wall, she'll head to her studio and press out a lump that snugly fills the hole. She then stamps these blocks with cryptic messages such as "This stone used to be my heart." In doing so she's performing admirable work as a stone mason perhaps prepping for a career in the public-works industry? and as an urban beautifier.

Because the ceramic blends into the gray walls, it would seem that many passersby would stroll right past Makarenko's teensy interventions without noticing them. They're not blinging all in your face like the crevice geodes of Paige Smith. For folks who enjoy rooting out the city's hidden treasures, though, that just makes finding these things a little more special.

The artist began her war against voids to satiate her puzzle-solving obsession and express herself in the public realm. On her website, she explains that the phrases are meant to "tag my presence at the particular place." As for their meaning, they could be "random thoughts," metaphorical musings or "sudden phrases which appear in a casual talk, argument or emotional conversation." (If that's true, she must have really weird conversations.)

Some may even be inspired by people's response to her art. In the series of fake stones below, which Makarenko installed in Stockholm in 2011 and 2012, there's one message that yells that it's "not a chocolate bar!" Could one hungry member of the public have appreciated this artwork a little too much?

(Images courtesy of the artist. H/t to Design Milk.)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a map of future climate risks in the U.S.
    Maps

    America After Climate Change, Mapped

    With “The 2100 Project: An Atlas for A Green New Deal,” the McHarg Center tries to visualize how the warming world will reshape the United States.

  2. photo: an Uber driver.
    Perspective

    Did Uber Just Enable Discrimination by Destination?

    In California, the ride-hailing company is changing a policy used as a safeguard against driver discrimination against low-income and minority riders.

  3. Perspective

    Why Car-Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm

    In cities like New York, Paris, Rotterdam, and soon San Francisco, car-free streets are emerging amid a growing movement.

  4. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  5. Life

    The Next Recession Will Destroy Millennials

    Millennials are already in debt and without savings. After the next downturn, they’ll be in even bigger trouble.

×