Backyard, Yerevan

Welcome to Yerevan. Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Welcome to Yerevan. Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Downtown Yerevan is clean and clear. It pretty much looks like it was built overnight or dreamt by a grand architect. This, of course, is an exaggeration, but in fact Yerevan’s layout has one mastermind, Alexander Tamanian.

Everything here has its place. Streets are wide, sidewalks – swept. Public space is somehow saturated. Definitively full.

Or is it just a façade?

Look inside. Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Look inside. Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Walk through the alleyways and into the backyards of Yerevan. Тhen stop. Nothing is ordinary. You will encounter the weirdest hidden gems of (de)construction. You will notice that in the backyards time stood still long ago and no event is more important than setting up a backgammon board.

Unofficial.  Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Unofficial. Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

These yards in the back are microcosms. Miniature towns inside the hybrid city. Or maybe even the city itself, but maybe that’s pushing it a little.

Car. Door. Booth.  Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Car. Door. Booth. Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Downtown Yerevan is clear and clean. It’s almost impossible to get lost here. Well, unless you gallivant through the backyards too much. Some of them are interconnected and they lead you on shady paths behind officially marked streets.

Step outside of order.

Step outside of order.  Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Care to join? Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Some of them have shops or cafes in them. In other ones you can find single-standing dwellings. Many of them looks like they were entirely taken over by children, which is a good sign – a sign of youthfulness and a breath of fresh air.

Playgrounds.  Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Playgrounds. Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

In others, street art artists pick up where the kids left off and reign supreme.

Playground. Mural. Ladder.  Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Playground. Mural. Ladder. Photo: Zofia Bałdyga

Immerse yourself in these yards in the back. I fell head over heels for the chaos, for the mosaic of different materials, the anarchy of forms and shapes, and colors. A photographer’s dream.

While wandering around and looking out for images for this piece, I spotted people sitting on the porches and chatting. They were just there making me feel like there is no particular need to ever leave. Perhaps I should have stayed there.