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Playing Outside the Rules with the Sunday Adventure Club

"We don't encourage breaking the law," says Sunday Adventure Club co-curator Gerda Zijlstra, "But if you are too careful, nothing will ever happen.”

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 10-10-2008

The Sunday Adventure Club takes over from where Urban Play left off by expanding the realms of possibility. Cityscapes can be the domain of not just urban artists wanting to leave their unsanctioned prints, but everyday people who can also manipulate available space to suit their needs. Guerilla Gardening, DIY construction, and temporary clubs can work out of in-between spaces and temporarily abandoned lots. Finding possibilities to create, to share information or to just simply play requires a new way of looking at urban spaces.

And play is something that our overregulated cities provide little freedom for. The Sunday Adventure Club, curated by Ester van de Wiel, both celebrates those who found a way to play and instructs the curious on how to realize their own community-based, urban ideas.

In the 70s it was guerilla gardening. In the 80s it was BMX tracks. These days it is real and virtual gatherings arranged on the Internet. It’s about getting involved, sharing ideas and opinions, and making your community your own. “But what it’s mostly about is empowering the people,” says co-curator Gerda Zijlstra.

The exhibition, which resembles a club-house, begins with a wall displaying all sorts of tools and club paraphernalia: I-pods, ropes, ladders, a mac book …

“We think these are the basic tools for urban pioneers,” says Zijlstra. “If you want to start gardening, hold a dance event or build a new structure, everything you need is here.”

Zijlstra points out a fluorescent workmen’s suit worn by city employees. “That will give you access to anything,” she says. “It works like a free access card.”

Upstairs, club t-shirts as well as footage and imagery of the best urban pioneers is displayed. Honorary club members like tight rope walker Phillipe Pette, of Man On A Wire fame, are celebrated. Pette spent six years meticulously studying the Word Trade Center towers before staging in 1974 his tight-rope walk between the now collapsed towers.

“Pette is my favourite urban pioneer,” says Zijlastra. “He even saw that space between the towers as usable, which is the ultimate way of looking at things differently and spotting possibilities. What he did was literally walk the boundaries between what you are and aren’t allowed to do. Officially he is a criminal and although we don't encourage breaking the law, if you are too careful, nothing will ever happen.”

A video runs of the most famous so-called “flash mob” which is when large groups of people suddenly assemble in public spaces, perform an unusual action for a brief period of time and then quickly disperse. During The Grand Central Freeze 200 “agents” shocked passersby by standing completely still in the hall of Grand Central Station in New York.

“Maybe these people are the new situationists,” says Zijlstra. “But during that brief moment when everybody froze, the whole sense of functionalism and bureaucracy in society crumbled.”

The Sunday Adventure Club runs until November 2nd.

Images: top, Phillipe Pette walking a tightrope between the World Trade Towers, Club t-shirts, the clubhouse tool wall

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