Luxembourg Artist Max Mertens transformed a city centre street into a magical wonderland last year, with an artistic installation composed of hundreds of colourful swings. The work hangs above the pedestrian avenues, Rue Philipe II and Avenue de la Porte-Neuve, giving those who walk below a beautifully nostalgic journey into their youth.
The creative and playful installation was created as part of a competition organised by the Association Rue Philippe II in collaboration with the Casino Luxembourg art museum and the City of Luxembourg. It consists of 450 wooden swings hanging just out of reach of pedestrians. The ropes suspending the swings are painted in bright colours and present viewers with a fantastic and bright playground suspended above the busy city street.
While the swings have no practical use, they give the street a vibrancy and remind people of the excitement that they felt as youngsters revelling in the joy of playground fun. One observer jovially commented that pigeons are the only ones who will be using the swings “and they will have time to master how to hit humans with their ammo while being in motion.” This reflects the playful, fun energy that the installation has brought to the city centre.
The concept of using playground equipment as an artistic statement is not totally unique. The balloon swing designed by Australian architect Jesse Lockhart-Krause for a New York park, uses a swing that is suspended from a colourful hot air balloon. This lets children float above the city park whilst sitting on the swing – a fantastic experience for youngsters at play. Artist Phillippe Malouin has also used swings as an artistic expression in several installations.
The swing is one of the oldest and most common pieces of playground equipment, it remains a favourite among children and adults alike. The feeling of lightness that is generated from being suspended and flung into the air seems to be a sensation that people love. Its impact is so great that it even serves as inspiration for artists.
The joy and freedom experienced as children at the playground stays with us forever. It’s no wonder then, that there’s a worldwide resurgence in the popularity of the playground. In our modern world, the emphasis on academic education and the obsession with technology have taken children away from the playground. People are now realising that playground equipment is an important part of stimulating children in many ways.
This realisation has created a renewed interest in the role of the playground in a child’s development. Not only does it inspire children to develop whilst at play, but it also inspires creativity. It’s easy to understand how Mertens’ swing installation was accepted with so much enthusiasm. It evokes the emotions of excitement and youthful freedom. A sensation that people of any age can embrace.