Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.


Jul 15, 2016 - Emma Bäcklund

“Why should an art museum organise an exhibition about playgrounds? I am convinced that the two can learn a great deal from one another and are fundamentally similar in nature. Both develop their potential as clearly defined free spaces, as public places and experimental fields for aesthetics. Both invite non-professionals and insiders, children and adults to use them as laboratories in order to give their thoughts and movements free rein to experience new things, test out the unknown, and enter into relationships. They may be niches, but their subversive potential is not to be underestimated.” - From the publication The Playground Project, produced in relation to the exhibition at Kunsthalle Zürich with the same title. These photographs are from the exhibition “The Playground Project”, Kunsthalle Zürich 20.02.2016-16.05.2016, and from the beautiful publication with the same title that I recently bought. I started to research around ideas of play, gestures and play theory after experiencing a dance performance at Sadlers Wells, London in March. The performance was by Anna Teresa De Keersmaker; “Rosas, golden hours (as you like it)”. Sitting there, I began to visualise arrested motions within the movements, ideas of still images. After that I begun to research play theory further and became curious in the subject, specially the slippage between seriousness and creativity. Previous theories implied that play would be ‘apart’ from reality. Robert Caillois defines play as a free and voluntary activity that occurs in a pure space, isolated and protected from the rest of life. I believe that play is what is very much part of life and strives culture forward. Play can open up the possibility of re-figurations and development, and that creativity is a crucial part of positive psychology and social interactions. After working with people and gestures within the photograph, the embodied play developed into a fascination in structures, scaling off the bodily presence to an interest in its structural proportions, its negative space. I began to observe my surroundings such as playgrounds, gym machines, product design, architecture and shapes in an urban environment. This is what developed into the photographs in my last post “Re:formed (Inoperative)”. It is merely the beginning of an ongoing project I intent to explore during this summer and into my last year of studying MA Photography at the Royal College of Art. I will continue to build sculptures based on activities performed through the body and functionality to later emerge in the flatness of the photograph. - Emma Bäcklund