Adventure Playground
Corin Sworn
April 1 — April 29, 2006

Adventure playgrounds were popularized in Europe after WWII out of necessity and were heroicized in the 1960’s as spaces of ‘free play,’ where play architecture was designed and built by the user, in opposition to ‘fixed play’: modular climbing structures designed by architects and urban planners not adaptable to individual users.

In 1968 the Danish artist Palle Nielsen presented an experimental research project entitled Model for a Qualitative Society. This work staged a children’s playground in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Over the course of the exhibition the museum had 33,000 visitors, 20,000 of whom were children. As with the adventure playgrounds of the day, Nielsen’s Model had political aspirations for the creation of a ‘free’ space. In accordance with Marxist ideas, it was believed that enabling children to produce their own playground liberated the means of production and the potentials of the individual. In turn, an acceptance of the children’s chaotic building aesthetic was seen as encouraging a freer tomorrow. Over the course of the 1980s the aesthetic of these self-built adventure playgrounds became reinterpreted as both ugly and dangerous.

Most adventure playgrounds have now been replaced by aesthetisized, civic constructions which promise greater safety precautions for children despite the well documented fact there are far fewer injuries on adventure playgrounds than on conventional ones.

For the duration of one month the artist will collaborate with a group of public primary schools and play workers to build an adventure playground at the Or Gallery. In attempting to build an adventure playground Corin Sworn uses repetition to re-test a previous social experiment. Within a scientific experimental model repetition is used to examine the effect of variables upon research findings. Adventure Playground seeks to examine a contemporary aesthetic reading of this child built architecture.

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Or Gallery

555 Hamilton St.
Vancouver, BC
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