A stylish man in his forties tells me from a promotional video, “There is a lot to choose from if you’ve seen the whole world already.” From Odesa Opera Theatre he heads on to a Cruise terminal, jumps into his brand new Tesla and smiles at me from its open window. He says he could live either on Ibiza or Cyprus or even in Dubai though he always got his reasons to stay out of those places – boredom, being tired partying or lack of beautiful women around. “Those who’ve seen the world would choose Odesa,” he says. “It has everything you need to be happy.” And, finally, “Living by the sea is fashionable.” Little puppy and pink suit add up to the image of this happy Odesa cosmopolitan, walking down the French boulevard.
I would like to see how the camera comes close up to his sunglasses, then comes through it and shows us the picture this guy sees with his own eyes. Just like Fincher and Cuarón do in their movies. This reflection in his pink-colored lenses. Also, I would like this optimistic lounge music to go down with sounds of construction works rising instead.
It seems lately that all of the happiness-seekers have heard this simple formula of our time’s hero and mobilized all of their housebuilding facilities to fight depression and lack of fashion in daily routine. In fact -there are eight ongoing multi-story construction sites along French boulevard at the moment. Some of those are situated in the middle of a city’s recreation zone. And it seems like it’s just a beginning.
On March, 20, Odesa city council approved a decision to rent 7 land plots located on French boulevard, moreover, to private companies. Renting term is from 5 up to 20 years. Odesa champagne factory, built in 1898 and sold last year, became an object of specific interest due to information of its renting. There were some rumors about renting it to a company which has already built an ant-hill style residential complex on outskirts of the city. A pure urbanistic catastrophe with a logistic crisis and ugly facades to boot those who would dare to live there. They just had to wait till spring.
Moldova sanatorium, located at Arcadia area had also been under threat of demolishing. There were photos of building plans on the social network last autumn. Luckily, this time it has been removed from the list of objects to discuss.
But, is it for long? “Special interest” in Odesa way is a compilation of thousands of angry comments on Facebook and a maximum of 150 people on a meeting at the city council. Total passivity and disbelief of locals are in some perverted way mutual to deliberate, almost erotic defencelessness of city parks, sanatoriums, architectural monuments. Abandoned and ripped by restaurants and mansions, for years and years without restoration they are spreading out with its powerless former beauty for square kilometers of non-effective (considering actual standards) territory. Reminds me of a local crazy woman in a fancy old-fashioned dress, defenseless and sincere, she’s panicking and waiting for someone who will hurt her while others are just passing by.
And there are thousands of young and ambitious in a line. Willing to live “fashionable” here and now. Not all of them are wearing pink suits, but definitely, they are sure that they deserve to live with the best view from the window. Who would tell them off this? The ethical question “Is it ok to live in a sanatorium, architectural monument or, let’s say, botanical garden territory?” is replaced by a vulgar-esthetical, status scheme that one has to play in front of the narcissistic black mirror in a bathroom with marble tiles. Luckily, there are a lot of those in this city, who would fight for the right to build an arrange it.
From now on, every time I hear about next plot of land turning just like a Cinderella into a multi-story mansion in “elite district with clean air and green zone around” I will imagine a concrete petal falling from a fountain cup by a Marasli greenhouse. Until it’s demolished.
Text and photo by Sasha Naselenko