april 13, 2002
artist Palle Nielsen about
playgrounds and the exhibition on
Modernamuseet, stockholm in 1968
Theme: YNKB 13 April, artist Palle Nielsen
Jens Dreyer, Red Roses Nursery School
Station 2000, an underground local radio station transmitted live from YNKB
The theme day was transmitted over station 2000. Finn Thybo Andersen served North Jutland cusine: sausage and stewed cabbage with sugar and cinnamon.
Palle moved around restlessly smoking cigarettes.
Three boys came by and began to draw.
Finn 2000: Peasants produced for the landowners and got a little bit of cabbage.
Palle: Poor man´s food, but very healthy. After World War I, the government recommended that people eat lots of cabbage. There were state subsidies for cabbage that allowed poor farmers to survive.
2000: Government officials have different proposals, but we refer to the politicians. It´s all about getting grassroots democracy to work. You talk like someone who is part of the system and speaks on the system´s premises.
Palle: Grassroots democracy as a park has never been created.
2000: You keep talking on the basis of existing premises. The activity park is the whole of Nørrebro, the whole northwest section of the city. It has become the Social Democrats prestige project.
Artist Palle Nielsen
Palle has created playgrounds most of his life and presented some from the end of the 1960s. He took part in playground actions with architects and artists in which they cleared back courtyards. The idea was that children should experience a freer life.
The pictures are from an exhibition at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1968: There had never been so many visitors at Moderna Museet, either before or since, and 20 000 of them were children. People stood in line outside for many hours to come in for two hours. Five hundred were allowed in at a time..
The rooms were full of music. The children themselves chose the music from among the records that had been purchased. The most played was a cello concerto by Bach and choir music by Palestrina. These records got worn out and new ones had to be purchased.
The rooms were full of a layer of foam rubber 1.2 cm thick. It was delivered in two large trucks. The kids could jump down onto it. Only two were injured, because some larger kids couldn´t wait to jump and landed on them.
They made skeletons. There were ladders so they could climb up and make caves. There were also loads of costumes donated by Dramaten, and masks of politicians – then, it was Johnson and De Gaulle – and they painted each other.
The fire department forbad the foam rubber (even though a large department store has fours times as much, and people are allowed to smoke there – at Moderna Museet, no smoking was allowed). A group of friends came from Copenhagen with a Volkswagen bus and built some enormous slides over a weekend. Lots of rope was hung up that the children could climb on and there weren´t any accidents. Usually, they cannot play naturally because it is considered dangerous. Of course, no one should get killed while playing, but there is always a risk and if you remove all risks then there´s nothing to play. That´s a problem.
Outside, there was a two-km-long queue and it was really cold. People waited one and a half to two hours. So we had to make a playground with cement pipes and wood and set up a hotdog stand and a grill.
Psychological Institute in Stockholm had three psychologists there to study play.
Station 2000: It failed then.
2000: Yes, because they aren´t there any longer!
Palle: Afterwards, more resources were provided for play!
Västervås bought the whole exhibition for 4000 kr. and built an environment – it was minus 25 degrees there – in a bobble hall where an inside playground was set up. It was there a half-year. All the schools and institutions in the area used it daily. The train shed in Østerbro is a further development of that idea, but it is also led with a whole set of rules.
In the freight terminal´s wonderful space, one of the rooms could be made into a playground. Kids love inside playgrounds. With old sewing machines, they could sew their own costumes. If a slide is made broad enough all kinds of things happen.
Inside building-playgrounds: In the cellar at the art academy, a playground was built in a weekend. Kids made labyrinths out of corrugated cardboard.
High Gladsaxe: Together with architects and psychologists and residents, we made a playground in a weekend. It was torn down after three weeks.
2000: An activity park with several generations.
Palle: My experience tells me that there should also be pedagogues
2000: In a bicycle workshop, there shouldn´t be pedagogues but a young cyclesmith.
Palle: What is crucial is the form of ownership and money. All the central parts of the city administration have made.
2000: The election campaign is between the politicians and the city
administrators. We go directly to the politicians. All parties think it´s a great idea. What´s crucial is not economy but direct democracy. The
politicians have to go to the administrators and tell them what to do.
Palle: It has to be paid with tax money and such a park would be wildly expensive, 300-350 million
2000: So what?
Palle: If they build houses, it won´t cost anything.
2000: I have noticed that every time we want to make something, all these obstacles arise due to thinking habits.
Palle: You are naïve. Politicians will say every time, Where´s the money?
2000: We know where the money is. Look at EU´s policies in relation to the region Copenhagen/Malmö. Thousands of millions. 380 million for neighbourhood restoration.
Palle: That´s for businesses not for recreation!
2000: That´s because we have some really passive citizens. I can damn well promise you the money will pour in. Now, we have the next question, because here come the elite.
What do you think will happen to property prices in Mjølner Park when there is an activity park and a culture centre?
Palle: You have to fight for it, because there are lots of different
2000: The railway administration is very interested.
Kirsten: They have left it in such a mess. Who´s going to pay for that. They can´t ask for money when they deliver the property in that state.
2000: In Nanasgade, there is a polluted lot. At Titangade 33, they will
build a three-storey house with children´s institutions.
Jens: The neighbours reject that.
2000: Cleansing the lot in Nanasgade would cost 40 million crowns! You´retalking on the basis of the given premises instead of defining the premises yourselves.
Palle: Back the planners that want a park.
2000: Goddamn if I´ll support the administrators. We have to back the
politicians. If we support the administrators, we´ve already lost.
Gillion: Can´t we influence the administrators?
2000: The politicians that have just been elected support the park.
Jens: There aren´t any politicians that do anything without contacting the administrators
Gillion: They are also excited about the things they work with.