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------Art path of Hunter's Valley

Ester Faiman, Argo Männik

Ester Faiman and Argo Männik (Estonia)

In a novel by Clifford Simak ants, inspired by the human out-of-context impulse, build a huge colossus that fills the entire planet. Before leaving the place, the Robot who is the last creature besides ants on Earth, witnesses the mysterious grand edifice starting to crumble, revealing its empty and abandoned interior – the ants have vanished and it will never be clear what happened to them.

The majority of humankind is now focused on developing technologies, devising new military equipment, expanding production at whatever cost, and all the while ignoring the increasingly obvious knowledge that we are approaching the ruin of the planet’s ecosystem and subsequent self-destruction. People seem so centred on their closest, palpable, visible and monetarily measurable environment that they have forgotten the sky, earth and living nature that surround all that. Man belongs among the few creatures who are able to adapt the environment to suit his needs and organise the necessary space for his existence, in most cases thus causing an irreversible damage to the ecological system. Man, however, is not alone in similar construction work. Beavers, too, are able to rearrange their natural habitat, although unlike man they act in symbiosis with nature.

Then came the beaver-ants. Nobody knows from where or when. They probably decided to jump on the boat after the Second Flood. Kütiorg suits them. They gnaw at trees until they fall and then amass towers that resemble anthills. Ant paths in the forest cross those of the beavers, the road signs point to different directions. A large number of tiny animals the colour of local clay moves about on the nest – how extensive are the passages underneath is known only to the creatures themselves. The underground labyrinths are ideal for sorting out one’s underground business so that the foxes would not yelp and owls screech.

Can beaver-ants control their actions? Or will they multiply senselessly, or perhaps focus too much on what is left over from humans and end up like Simak’s ants? Some primitive peoples believe that the souls of the dead live on in beavers. One cannot help wondering whether the beaver-ants, after making the Earth habitable once again, will be born anew as humans? So that people could again …