The playground is a by-product of the industrialized city of the 20th century. More than almost anywhere else, it condenses ideas about education and childhood, urban planning and public space, architecture and art, and creativity and control. In the process, the playground repeatedly eludes institutional and ideological appropriation and produces its own, sometimes anarchic blossoms. This juxtaposition of different expectations, momentary achievements, and adventurous notions is what makes the playground in the first place.

The Playground Project illustrates the most important moments in the history of the playground through outstanding designers. Projects by artists, designers, activists, and architects are shown in numerous images, films, plans, and models. Well-known figures such as Aldo van Eyck, Isamu Noguchi, or Palle Nielsen meet forgotten and rediscovered pioneers such as Joseph Brown, Richard Dattner, Group Ludic, Riccardo Dalisi, Joseph Schagerl, and many others. In the process, four great moments of change become apparent: at the beginning of the 20th century, social reformers took the child from the street to the playground. In 1930, the idea emerged that children should play less on playground equipment and more with natural materials. In 1960, the decade of do-it-yourself, parents, children, and neighbourhood groups built the places themselves. The 1980s heralded a crisis in playground design with the end of social utopias and the beginning of regulation.

The exhibition was developed by Gabriela Burkhalter and Daniel Baumann, was shown in 2016 at the Kunsthalle Zürich, and subsequently at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle, and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. An extension is being conceived for the Bundeskunsthalle that will take the existing exhibition as a basis and expand it both thematically and in terms of the exhibition space and number of exhibits. In addition, a chapter will be added to the catalog produced for Zurich in conjunction with the extension.

© Images Laurin Schmid
© Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland GmbH
© Courtesy KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, 303 Gallery, New York and Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen



Jeppe Hein (b. 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a Danish artist based in Berlin. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Städel Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Jeppe Hein is widely known for his production of experiential and interactive artworks that can be positioned at the junction where art, architecture, and technical inventions intersect. Unique in their formal simplicity and notable for their frequent use of humor, his works engage in a lively dialogue with the traditions of Minimalist sculpture and Conceptual art of the 1970s. Jeppe Hein’s works often feature...
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