Possible Playgrounds

Possible Playgrounds is a result of a one-month residency in Bucharest, Bucharest Microtopia, initiated and curated by Maja Nydal Eriksen, where five Nordic photographers were challenged to start the process of mapping the microtopias of the city. Using the outsider’s perspective, the aim was to benefit from the foreigners naïve, first impressions and encounters to restage and reopen discussions about tendencies and developments taken for granted within the city. 

In a city highly shaped by utopian visions of both socialism and capitalism, the theme of microtopia seems to be relevant, as another point of departure - individuals and their personal dreams and desires.

"For my project Possible Playgrounds I went searching for signs of microtopias in an average neighbourhood of the city, Drumul Taberei. Instead of looking at subcultures or radical new tendencies, I wanted to focus on an ordinary setting representing average life and local surroundings.

Drumul Taberei started out as a manifestation of a communist utopia; a successful example of city planning, build in the mid-to-late 1960s as a high density urban residential area, with 63,000 apartments. On my first visit, what struck me, was the lack of urban life which is highly concentrated in the playgrounds and commercial centers of the neighborhood. 

After meeting a group of teenagers playing and animating the small spaces between the blocks, and getting thrown away by elder residents, I decided to discover the neighborhood through the eyes and imagination of its young residents. During a one-month workshop with around thirty school children aged 11 – 14 years, from Școala 197, we mapped out the esthetic and spatial qualities of the intimate spaces surrounding the school and homes of the kids.

Inspired by computer games, fairytales, and urban legends we used simple materials at hand, and turned the unused spaces between the blocks into stages for possible playgrounds or microtopias. The kids were challenged to describe their wishes, needs and feelings towards the neighborhood. They negotiated reality and set up an alternative to the official playgrounds with their protective single gate entries and jungle gyms with rubber floors."