Have you ever had the sense that there are times that playgrounds in your hometown are eerily quiet? It’s a cracking day for an adventure. You head out to a new playground. It’s empty as in deserted. Welcome to the world of Denis Patrakeev.
Denis Patrakeev, Game Earth series – 13 January – 18 February – Erarta, London, UK
I do wonder on these occasions why no one else, other than us, is there. I think maybe that the designs have long ago lost their snap. I think play is regimented, boxed in in well meaning repeatathon structures that are not nearly as flexible as the imaginations that course through, over, and under them.
I wonder too what other public space play paradigms can be invented for urban kids? The challenges are no longer the same as they were at the dawn of the playground in the early 20th century. And here, I’m speaking only of those OECDeed countries. Now, it can be argued, the public policy issues are even more pressing. Our children have become indolent, corpulent, alienated from the natural world, from non-digital play. And everywhere on the planet, urbanization continues its relentless march.
Are empty playgrounds the canary in the coal mine? I don’t think so. None that I see are as inert, as devoid of life as Patrakeev depicts. There is colour, light and context all around.
It’s important that parents, experts and kids keep the play conversation kinetic, in motion to recognize the best from experiences around the globe.
Sometimes all you need is a bright sunny sky, a ball, and love, sweet love.