Symposium | Holiday from Rules

Join us on Saturday 8 February, for a symposium organised as part of ‘Holiday from Rules’, an art and education programme organised by Kunstraum and Islington Play Association at Toffee Park Adventure Playground, Ironmonger Row, London, EC1V 3QS, including works by Anna-Sophie Berger, Tiz Creel, Adelita Husni-Bey, Rachel de Joode, Nils Norman & Matt Brown and Finbar Ward.

For the closing event of ‘Holiday from Rules’, we invi te artists, curators, playworkers and the audience to discuss the shifting role of play in culture and social practices.

Two new works will be presented as part of this event:

– Nils Norman (1966, UK) and Matt Brown (1992, UK, part of the critical design practice ‘public works’) will unveil ‘The Toffee Park Jack Smith Mobile Dressing Up Armoire’, a play vehicle taking the form of a mobile dressing up cupboard that has been realised in collaboration with Toffee Park’s children and playworkers through a series of workshops organised across the summer.

– A teaser and still shots of ‘Turn Loose in your Yard’ by Adelita Husni-Bey (1985, Italy), a film resulting from a three-weeks role-playing workshop during which the artist and children produced short scripts and clips imbued with the erratic, ecstatic energy of free-play.

This will be followed by a group conversation during which artists who participated in the project will present their projects and discuss their experience in working with children and playworkers on the realisation of their commissions and activities.

Finbar Ward (1990, UK) will discuss the making and becoming of ‘Stuck in the Mud’ (2019), a sculptural garden elaborated with children, who were invited to embed personal items and/or organic materials pruned on site.

Tiz Creel will discuss ‘Strange Creatures’, a two-day workshop during which children were invited to collectively imagine creatures which they created using the ‘interlocking system’ with reclaimed cardboard.

Finally, ‘Holiday from Rules’’ curator Camille Houzé will show documentations of site-specific projects realised across the programme, including ‘It Won’t Rain’ (2019), a three-meters long cage-like structure composed of 28 industrial ladders by Anna-Sophie Berger (1989, Austria); and ‘Surface Suits’ (2019), a series of wearable sculptures made by Rachel de Joode (1979, NL)

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In a political landscape where spaces of play have become contested territory of urban development, ‘Holiday from Rules’ relocates the child-initiated space of adventure playground as a site of artistic, educational and emancipatory activity. With commissions by Anna-Sophie Berger, Adelita Husni-Bey, Rachel de Joode, Nils Norman & Matt Brown and Finbar Ward, ‘Holiday from Rules’ brings artworks which operate as play objects and a series of artist-led workshops to Toffee Park Adventure Playground, London EC1, throughout August and September 2019.

’Holiday from Rules’ will be experienced most fully by children playing in Toffee Park (open access for age 6+, during holidays Mon–Fri, 10.30–17.30) and can be explored by the public during the opening night (2 August, 6.30–9pm) and during scheduled open days.

‘Holiday from Rules’ takes its inspiration from the history of adventure playgrounds as reclaimed urban spaces that developed out of post-war London’s rubble. Originally referred to as ‘junk playgrounds,’ these abandoned bomb-sites came to embody a spirit of collective ownership, pointing to an inherent social need for spaces of play. At the same time, adventure playgrounds have championed the importance of free play – unstructured, imaginative and child-initiated play – in children’s development.

By inviting artists, children and play-workers to work together in creating the commissions, ‘Holiday from Rules’ tests the potential of artistic practice to conceive the play-space as a uniquely malleable, aesthetically oriented site of group activity and collective formation.

Central to the project is a reflection on the idea of ‘affordances’ – the sum of potentialities contained within an object or environment, implying that humans don’t understand their surrounding as matter in space but in terms of the ‘action possibilities’ it affords. The multiplicity of play affordances within an adventure play environment endorses the playground as an open-system which allows space for interpretation, identification and experimentation. ‘Holiday from Rules’ converges art making with the ethos of free-play – by creating structures without centre and stimulating actions without purpose, the project foregrounds the freedom, indeterminacy and unproductiveness of play, and strikes a close comparison of play with art practice.

‘Holiday from Rules’ is a collaboration between Islington Play Association and Kunstraum, curated by Kunstraum’s Associate Curator Camille Houzé.

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