Nika Dubrovsky: Playgrounds and why do I interested in them?

Why am I interested in the topic of playgrounds?

In the endless amount of time I’ve spent on playgrounds while my kids were playing, I became a fan, as well as a hater, of the many that exist in the various countries that I visited, and came up with all sorts of ideas for my own playgrounds, too. In ’90s Russia, my little daughter played on a playground covered in ads for cheap yogurts; in New York in the 2000s, my son played on a playground made mostly out of security specs, that were put in place to prevent playing instead of facilitating it; later, in Berlin, he steered a pirate ship on a beautiful playground built in a Turkish neighborhood by enthusiasts who seemed to have escaped all limitations and construction codes. It was an immigrant Nuekoln community, probably authority did not pay much attention to it, but at that time (2000s) Germany was much more loose on regulation, compared to the US. 

This type of playgrounds might look criminally dangerous to any US parents, but in fact, it’s creative, inventive, and their safety is organized by a community that builds it for themselves and by themselves. Interestingly, there were no mass shootings in Germany at that time, but it was actually the US that had this problem while simultaneously increasing all kinds of police-run “safety” measures.

After spending lots of time at playgrounds with their children, many parents start to think about their own ideal playground. Why don’t all of us—current and future parents—create our own APTART home exhibits focused on one of today’s most vital public arts: crafting spaces where people of all ages and backgrounds can play together?

David Graeber and I once started a project called Visual Assembly. It was devoted to what we called the City of Care. Our friends from the Extinction Rebellion Art Group helped us put it together.

It turned out that a space for play—where people of all ages come together—is a very important part of city life. I was thinking it might be interesting to come together and discuss in more details what playgrounds could look like.