The artists have chosen the most frequently found ‘decorative’ element of the territories surrounding the canal - swans hand-carved from rubber tires by local craftsmen. All of them are made according to the same method, which resonates with oral folklore. The swan was a sacred bird in the beliefs of the northern Karelians. Now, when the rivers and lakes have merged, forming the channel's route, the swans are disappearing from these places. They are replaced by rubber phantoms. The pathos of the five-year plan and man's dominance over nature brings with it a loss of natural beauty, and sorrow.

Russian writer Mikhail Prishvin has written two books about this region. The Land of Unfrightened Birds, a book celebrating the sanctity of the natural world, was written before the revolution. The second one, The Tsar's Road, was written celebrating the White Sea Baltic Canal in the years in which the canal was constructed but published much later in 1957. “Was it worth frightening birds?” the novel's protagonist asks.