So-called sculptural structures, originally designed by artists as playgrounds for children, have played an important role in the discussion about architecture and urbanism. These playground frames prevailed throughout the post-war era. Typically, local artists were commissioned for their conceptual creation. Departing from Scandinavia and the Netherlands, ideas of their design spread to other countries and developed into experimental “environmental playgrounds“, which put the creative forces of play into a new perspective.
In Vienna the Kunst am Bau (art-in-architecture) programme was launched an important initiative to complement Vienna’s extensive communal residential building programme. By way of their abstract vocabulary of form and colour, these sculptural structures induced a kind of utopic momentum into the architectural tristesse of the reconstruction period. Many Viennese artists became inspired by international examples, including Josef Seebacher-Konzut and Josef Schagerl, who were able to realize many of their concepts.
Starting with photographic footage of these works – most of which have disappeared from the urban environment in the meantime – Sofie Thorsen explores, since 2010, the almost forgotten typology of the play sculpture in her series of work. In her work, Thorsen reflects on the specific intersection of architecture with abstract sculpture, aesthetics and function combined with art and play. In drawings and installations she investigates the symbolism of her photographs and sculptures. Through amplification and cut-out techniques they regain their former presence as room-filling collages.
The featured edition Spielplastik (Play Sculpture) is based on a climbing frame of Josef Seebacher-Konzut. The folding distorts the original shape of the cut-out, creating a rudimentary three-dimensionality whilst inviting to an interplay between picture and surface.