LONDON.- Febrik, a collaborative platform for participatory art and design research, presents an exhibition which unravels the politics of the right to public space and explores relationships between invented, inherited and modified play practices. Their work considers the potential of curious and familiar narratives of daily social play, with a particular focus, for this project, on the spatial dynamics of community groups in two different contexts: Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut and Amman, and Sceaux Gardens in Camberwell. Through photographic documentation, texts and animations, the show also demonstrates the processes of research, design and development undertaken in the creation of The Shop of Possibilities, the SLGs new social space for play for local residents in a retail outlet on the neighbouring Sceaux Gardens housing estate.
The exhibition brings together, for the first time, almost a decade of research and findings collected by Reem Charif, an architect and social researcher, and Mohamad Hafeda, an artist and designer, from Febrik. Their research began in 2003 in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, their country of origin, where they investigated the relationship between different communities, public space and play. Films and photographs document their site-specific installations in the camps, accompanied by beautiful play manuals and playful animations which, rather than drawing conclusions, illustrate Febriks on-going findings and discoveries.
Febrik's interest in how abandoned objects can be transformed into play items has been carried through from the Palestinian refugee camps to the Sceaux Gardens estate, where they have worked with children to design The Shop of Possibilities, which includes an evolving interactive wall of play items made from recycled objects. In this context, re-use is not only a means of creating a dynamic and compressed playground to activate unmarked public terrains on the estate, but also as a social tool for making networks within the community. As objects are donated or collected, their stories become part of the growing archive of play, giving new meaning and function to the objects.
Originally invited in 2010 by the South London Gallery to undertake a Making Play residency in a smaller shop unit on the Sceaux Gardens estate, Febrik worked with resident children to create The Shop of Possibilities in a much larger neighbouring unit. It serves as a free afterschool and weekend club for children on a number of local housing estates, with a focus on bringing together childrens play and contemporary art practices.
For the SLG show, Febriks research is divided over the two rooms of the first floor galleries, with one space dedicated to the SLG-related projects. This includes a projection of the Shop of Possibilities blog and A Proposition-O-Meter with the Rail of Play Encounters, a new diagrammatic work, which unpacks the relationships between artists, children and families, as well as between research and intervention.