After living in Russia for over a year, I decided to start this blog to share what I see and experience every day, living in the largest country on Earth and one certainly filled with co-existing opposites. The blog is called Russia Through The Lens, not just because I publish one (or more) picture I took every day, of subjects I photographed through my lens, but also because I try to offer a point of view at eye level, or at street level, if you wish, of what I see happening around me (and what I think I mean), without trying to paint this country with the pre-determined colours of prejudice.
That is why it is a bit sad for me, when trying to find other blog posts or articles about Russia, to encounter in 99% of the cases a purely political view and (this is the part that really saddens me), either black or white, meaning that Russia in general (and Putin in particular) is almost always depicted either as a saint or as the devil. And the whole of Russia with him.
Everyone is certainly entitled to his or her opinion on Putin, Russia, the World Order and so on. I am not trying to change that. I am just trying to offer a different point of view, about Russian people, the history of their (and now partially mine) country, the stories of the places I see and the people I meet.
My hope is that someone reading the title of this blog post and wondering what kind of political metaphor is hidden behind the term “plasticine” comes and discovers this blog, and decides to read a bit more about Russia and its people.
The truth is that there is no metaphor.
This is really a plasticine painting, which you can see upon entering the wonderfully quirky Didu Café in downtown Moscow. By the way, the writing over the picture says that they are “preparing a present for Putin’s birthday” and today Russia’s President turns 65 years old.
There is also a Mona Lisa plasticine painting (which apparently they are very proud of, as they showed it to me as soon as they saw I was taking pictures around). But you have to admit that a post title “Plasticine Mona Lisa” would have attracted less interest…. 😉
The Didu café is located in central Moscow, about 5 minutes from the Chistye Prudy metro station and just a block away from “the Chinese pagoda built fro the ambassador who never came” (see yesterday’s post for this interesting story).
Opened in 1996, it attracts numerous tourists and passer-by thanks to large windows with people sitting in hung wicker chairs on elevated platforms and overlooking the street. You might notice some of the people playing with plasticine, but it is not until you came to the café’s entrance door that you realize this is actually THE main theme of the place.
The interior of Didu Café comprises of coloured chairs and armchairs and tables in a variety of shapes, some of which painted with even more colourful cartoons. In the center there is a rather large open space, which in the evening becomes even larger and transforms into a dance floor, as the café turns into a bar at night.
The venue is actually more popular as a bar than a café, with Muscovites and expats alike and from what I hear (I haven’t actually tried them) the drinks are pretty good, definitely better than the coffee (which I did try, and it is not very good!) and the cooking, which again I did not try, but which gets a pretty low score on Tripadvisor…
The main attraction and reason to visit, especially during the day, are certainly the walls, almost completely covered in small plasticine sculptures.
When you sit at a table you are given not just napkins and menus, but also a small plastic cutting board with three pieces of plasticine (you can ask for more) for you to play with and create your very own little masterpiece.
Once you are happy with your creation, you are welcome to find a spot for it one one of the café’s walls and contribute to its ever-growing collection of “sticky art”.
Would you like to take part in a photowalk or a photo tour of Moscow or any other Russian destination with an English (and Italian, Spanish and French) speaking photographer (me) showing you the sights, the best time and viewpoint(s) to capture them in your images and helping you improve your photo technique with practical tips? If so, do get in touch and we’ll be happy to create an unforgettable, tailor-made experience for you!