Free Play

Visual arts / Architecture

In times of neoliberal urban development, the question that arises is: when and where is time and space in public space for play – and for whom?


In addition to living and working, the modern division of space comprised equally of leisure – accordingly, spaces for play were planned in a functionalist, rationalising form. To this day, fenced-in playgrounds, sports cages and decentralised leisure areas are part of the cultural heritage of Fordist, modernist urban planning, while the welfare state’s promise of the post-war period is gradually disappearing.

Starting out from the concept of play, “Free Play” comes to focus on urban playing spaces for old and young, public spaces and pieces of fallow land that have survived – international and historical scenes, from Aldo van Eyck’s Amsterdam to current-day Graz. The exhibition looks into rules and norms, discussing the question of how we can fulfil the demand for a right to play in the city of the future. Various interventions in urban space and an archive will be carried out. The show also critically examines the disappearance of small spaces of play in the city as collateral damage of the big game of the city in times of neoliberal urban development.

Co-produced by steirischer herbst & Haus der Architektur