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 photo of a tiny house in Oregon
    Design

    How Amazon Could Transform the Tiny House Movement

    Could the e-commerce giant help turn small-home living from a niche fad into a national housing solution?

  2. A portrait of Jay-Z.
    Equity

    The Roots of Jay-Z’s ‘Black Capitalism’

    Now partnering with the NFL, Jay-Z centers wealth-building in his activism, as many African Americans have before him—but without much success.

  3. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  4. The downtown St. Louis skyline.
    Perspective

    Downtown St. Louis Is Rising; Black St. Louis Is Being Razed

    Square co-founder Jack Dorsey is expanding the company’s presence in St. Louis and demolishing vacant buildings on the city’s north side.

  5. Environment

    What U.S. Cities Facing Climate Disaster Risks Are Least Prepared?

    New studies find cities most vulnerable to climate change disasters—heat waves, flooding, rising seas, drought—are the least prepared.

×