“Playgrounds. Reinventing the square” explores the collective dimension of play and the need for a “ground” of its own in order to engage in the construction of a new public arena.
“Playgrounds. Reinventing the square” (curated by Manuel J. Borja-Villel, Tamara Díaz & Teresa Velázquez) takes a historical and artistic approach to the space reserved for play and its socializing, transgressive and political potential from the dawn of modernity to the present day.
The exhibition aims to explore the recreational, playful, festive side of life that puts the humdrum reality of the everyday on hold, subverting, reinventing and transcending it for one fleeting moment.
With approximately 300 works in several formats (painting, sculpture, facilities, video, photography, graphical arts, cinema and documents) of artists like James Ensor, Francisco of Goya, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Helen Levitt, Alberto Giacometti, Ángel Ferrant, Hélio Oiticica, Lina Bo Bardi, Fischli and Weiss, Vito Acconci, Priscila Fernandes, or Xabier Rivas, Playgrounds. Reinventing the square shows how the playful element, understood as creative strategy, coexists with questions related to the public sphere Departing from this idea, the exhibition explores the recognition of the time and the space of the game as areas of essay and learning.
The introduction to the exhibition provides background on the carnivalesque concept of life, underscoring certain aspects related to the notion of free time in modern life. The show also revisits the street as a place of play and self-realization, through examples of adventure playgrounds as well as photographs and films that give a historic panoramic since the 1930s from a documentary perspective.
The nucleus of the exhibition is devoted to the model of the modern playground and its contradictions, with relevant materials accounting for the urban revolution of the 1960s, the consideration of the city as a relational and psychological construction and works that parallel aesthetic and political transformations.
The last section of the show consists of a series of experiments based on antihegemonic exercises, such us the civil appropriation of the street for “playground” use and works that challenge passive recreation through the emancipative power of play, not to mention recent experiences that resume the collective reinvention of the square and have become essential in envisioning new ways of doing politics.