Playground 2017.1: Space and images

A year ago, a dozen or so artists, myself included, who didn’t already work together, were chosen by the John Hansard Gallery to produce work in their space which was then opened for a public exhibition – the Playground project. There’s a bit about it here and here. A year on, we’re still in touch as a loose ‘Playground Collective’ and gathered once more, this time in Southampton’s Arch 04, part of aspacearts. Same people, different location, and this time, no pre-existing remit… so, what to do?

Firstly, we couldn’t help but notice the lack of tension – we’d been here before, we knew each other, and we didn’t have to produce anything tangible if we didn’t want to. We chatted – caught up a bit – then started thinking about themes. ‘Value’ came up a couple of times. Trying to evoke the freedom of childhood play. Reusing materials AKA ‘stuff’. Some of this stuff came in the form of a bundle of black-and-white photos – many holiday snaps, but plenty more subjects besides. Some were clearly related – from the same roll of film, others quite possibly not. We were free to use them as we saw fit – destructively if that’s the way it went.

What first grabbed my attention was a selection of people looking through sea-side coin-operated telescopes. Arrange them just so and they are spying on each other. Add more to either end of the sequence and we have a journey of sorts. Cut out figures and we have falling shadows, lost people, the emptiness of authority…

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Part of the videoed sequence

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Silhouettes, lost people?

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Who are you to tell me where to look? You are nothing!