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Playgrounds

December 30, 2009

The playgrounds of South Williamsburg and many other neighborhoods in New York City, in my mind, provide a transcendent break in landscape. In walking past these terrific and peculiar structures on a daily basis I started to see them as abstract sculptural forms.  In taking pictures of them, I began to see the implied metaphors for life and individual history. Their bizarre, repetitious shapes and vibrant colors represent the morphing circularity and whacked out perceptions that life can both cause and present. In doing an online search for what specific materials make up the playgrounds, I instead stumbled upon the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website and discovered my thoughts are not entirely unique :

Not only is a playground a place where a child may fly down a slide, soar on a swing, scale heights on a play structure, or be cooled by a spray
shower, but it is also a critical part of a child’s emotional education, where he or she discovers perhaps for the first time the challenges of the
world outside the home.
http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_about/parks_history/playgrounds.html

The emotional challenges that I experienced as a child echo themselves in my adult life. I think of this in terms of going beyond the psychoanalytic master narratives that tell me I’m a product of my environment. Size, contour and perspective may change, but the mental imprints and muscle memory in my being are as fixed and material as the reoccurring metal shapes and protective rubber mats the playgrounds themselves are made of. I find repetition and cycles in my emotional responses and realities, which are closely linked to experiences in the past. Redundant shapes in my life, deep threads that wrap around in my consciousness and manifest in my reaction to situations today. I’ve observed the stories that run through my head and the feelings in my body almost always are familiar and I can sense from this a connection to other time and place. Sometimes this awareness brings me back to a mystical place. Strange familiarity happens in the midst of mental and emotional displacement I feel due to an always-changing existence.

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2 Comments
  1. vincent permalink

    beautiful photos. and you express the ideas well. i’ve often been drawn to playgrounds as an adult, especially empty ones at night, for meditative and reflective purposes. you really do learn alot as well as create yourself as a kid in the playground. so much imagination at work, along with (the asme as?) remembering who you are…post reincarnation training with your reincarnated peers?

    love the new site, and the snow!

  2. these are beautiful Ame, thank you for sharing. I cant wait to see what you add to this in the new year. I didn’t grow up with playgrounds but i understand the social role of that type of space and how critical it is pointing towards an odd sort of nostalgia and loss.

    happy new year

    Holly

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