Aesthetic Encounters and Play Pockets: On Framing Blurred Practices with Art, Aesthetics, and Play in Danish Day Care Institutions

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftAbstraktForskningpeer review


Introduction Aesthetics and play are rooted in the Danish kindergarten as tradition and by law and valuing children's agency and encounters with art and culture. A connected term for this is culture for, with, and by children – the last mentioned is equal to children’s own initiated play culture (Mouritsen, 2002, 16). A mapping of the use of arts and culture in day care on behalf of the Danish Agency for Culture shows that culture for and with children in Danish day care institutions need more attention and some improvements (Kulturministeriet/Danish Agency for Culture, 2015). In 2018, Dagtilbudsloven (The Law of day care offer) announces ‘The open day care service’ – a field open for a growing collaboration between pedagogues and artists as well as the law highlights play as a fundamental approach and aesthetics as a part of the learning plan. This presentation and its empirical material and results link to two very similar projects targeting art and culture with children: Cultural Children of Europe (2015-2019) and Legekunst (Playart) (2019-2023). Cultural Children of Europe was subject for and connected to a doctoral study (Blomgren, 2019a) and the presentation will elaborate findings from here. As an independent but obvious continuation of the doctoral study, the presentation will also enhance findings, excerpts, and work-in-progress from the project Legekunst. From an overall perspective, both projects aim to create possibilities and knowledge about children’s encounters with aesthetic processes and play in a collaboration between pedagogues, artists, and researchers. Rooted in the two mentioned projects and the studies taken place here, the presentation explores the framing of art, aesthetics, and play through the metaphor Play pocket. Framed play pockets are initiated, facilitated, and eventually adult-guided, and the presentation raises the following research questions: What characterizes play pockets as a metaphor for facilitating encounters with art, aesthetics, and play? How can blurred practices with art, aesthetics, and play be framed and enhanced as aesthetic encounters and play pockets involving children and adult as aesthetic agents? Theory The theoretical framework approaches aesthetic encounters, art, and play as communities of practice (Schulte & Thompson, 2018). Furthermore, it addresses aesthetics, art, and play as possibilities of bringing children into subtle dialogues with each other, materials, and the world as sensitive-corporal practices and -experiences (Biesta, 2017, Blomgren, 2019b, Griffero, 2014, Gross, 2002, Jørgensen, 2009; 2015; 2018). With this backdrop, the contours defining play pockets derive from philosophical and phenomenological perspectives on aesthetics and interwoven with cultural orientations towards the notion of children’s play and aesthetics (von Bonsdorff, 2009, Mouritsen, 2002, Toft, 2019, Guss, 2005, Juncker, 2017). Framed play pockets are not free of adult influence, though the adult frame ´this is play´ (Bateson, 2000, p. 179) as possibilities for aesthetic- and social experiences. Framed play pocket emphasizes children and adults as aesthetic agents, who involve themselves in cultural technics, explore inherent qualities of materials, and participate in social situations and meetings with each other. To do so, one needs to address the use of corporal sensitivity, imagination, and play and ‘something more’ maybe comes alive (Griffero, 2014, Jørgensen, 2018). The intention of framed play pockets is to support play and aesthetic practices as important in themselves and not as a vehicle for formal learning or development (Huzinga, 1950/2014, Biesta, 2017). Method: The research approach in the projects was action research inspired and focused attention on how to challenge artists’ and pedagogues’ facilitation and framing of aesthetic encounters and -processes with children. The action research anchored in phenomenological and hermeneutic approaches focusing on living inquiries, action sensitive knowledge (van Manen, 1990; 1997) and “interchange of knowledge of different kinds” (Rönnerman, Furu, & Salo, 2008, p. 277). The use of methods were well-known qualitative methods as field notes and interviews. Also visual methods as video recordings, photos, and drawings became necessary in capturing the subtle meetings, moods, and materiality. In both studies, the researcher position was participative observation, but also intervening in actions and reflections. As researcher, I intervened in the living inquiries and contributed to them, and I researched with and not on the participants (Bradbury, 2015, p. 1). Results and conclusion: The study shows, that it in different ways challenges artists and pedagogues to be in play pockets. It raises questions about the roles of the artists and roles of the pedagogues and it challenges the habits and traditions in each institution and in each artist and pedagogue. Through actions and reflections, the adults become aware of the way they participate – and how unusual it is for some to give up power and control of the process. For some of the pedagogues it is a challenge to be provoked in their notions and perceptions about how children were supposed to act with materials. Others find it delightful and fruitful to be together with the children in play and aesthetic moods where anything can happen. Interviews with children show how funny and valuable they find it when the artist acts in a funny way and introduces them to materials, rhythms, or songs. They also value when their pedagogues participate in the play and relate to the children with an open and inviting attitude – saying “yes!” “let us do it!” In the research, I announce this as using a play tone, insisting on starting, contributing, and extending play moods. The research also shows how adults and children in general value aesthetic processes as social- and transforming processes, where they are attentive towards each other and materials in new and exploring ways. The research addresses questions about how the institutional frames and organization can provide extended collaboration between pedagogues and artists in order to prepare the actions together. It also raises questions about how to value open-ended processes in early childhood pedagogy and how to value adults and children as aesthetic agents. Finally, it is about what is desirable in early childhood pedagogy concerning blurred practices with art, aesthetics, and play. References: Bateson, G. (2000). A Theory of Play and Fantasy. In G. Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 177-193. Chicago: Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Biesta, G. (2017). Letting Art Teach. Art Education ’After’ Joseph Beuys. Arnhem, Netherlands: ArtEZ Press. Blomgren, H. (2019a). Æstetiske processer i daginstitutionen – aktionsforskningsinspireret projekt hvor pædagoger og kunstnere samarbejder. Ph.d.-afhandling. Odense: Institut for Kulturvidenskaber. Syddansk Universitet. Blomgren, H. (2019b). Beauty Bubbles, Subtle Meetings, and Frames for Play: Aesthetic Processes in Danish Kindergartens. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 20(1). Bradbury, H. (2015). Introduction. In H. Bradbury (ed.), The SAGE Handbook of action research (3rd rev. ed.). London: SAGE Publications. Griffero, T. (2014). Atmospheres. Aesthetics of Emotional Spaces. Surrey: Ashgate Gross, S. W. (2002). The neglected programme of aesthetics. British Journal of Aesthetics, 42(4), 403-414. Guss, F. (2005). Reconceptualizing Play: aesthetic self-defintions. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, vol. 6, number 3, 233-243. Huizinga, J. (1950/2014). Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. USA: Martino Publishing. Jørgensen, D. (2009). Why do we need philosophical aesthetics? Transfiguration: Nordisk tidsskrift for kunst og kristendom, 17-34, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum. Jørgensen, D. (2015). Experience, metaphysics, and immanent transcendence. In D. Jørgensen, G. Chiurazzi and S. Thinning (eds.), Truth and experience: Between phenomenology and hermeneutics, 11-30. GB: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Jørgensen, D. (2018). The philosophy of imagination. In T. Zittun & V. Glaveanu (eds.), Handbook of imagination and culture, 19-45. NY: Oxford University Press. Juncker, B. (2017). Being transformed: With the present ’now’ and presence as a driving force. Tidsskrift for Boerne og ungdomskultur, 33(61), 10-26. Mouritsen, F. (2002). Child Culture: Play culture. In F. Mouritsen & J. Qvortrup (eds.), Childhood and children’s culture, 14-42. Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark. Rönnerman, K., E.M. Furu, & P. Salo (2008). Conclusions and Challenges: Nurturing Praxis. In K. Rönnerman, E. M. Furu, & P. Salo (eds.), Nurturing Praxis: Action Research in Partnerships Between School and University in a Nordic Light, 267-280. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Schulte, C. M. & Thompson, C. M. (2018). Communities of Practice: Art, Play, and Aesthetics in Early Childhood. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. Toft, H. (2019). FairyPlay. Recycling Trash in Hans Christian Andersens’s Fairy Tales and Children’s Play. Aktualitet – Litteratur, Kultur og Medier, Bd. 13, nr. 1, 249-70. van Manen, M. (1990). Shifting the Limits of Action Research. Theory Into Practice, Volume 29, No. 3, 152–157. van Manen, M. (1997). Researching Lived Experience. Human Science for an Action Sensitive Pedagogy. USA: State University of New York Press. von Bonsdorff, P. (2009). Aesthetics of Childhood – Phenomenology and Beyond. Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics, Volume 1, 60-76. Mappings and reports: Kulturministeriet (Danish Agency for Culture) (2015). Kortlægning. Børns møde med kunst og kultur i dagtilbud (Mapping. Children´s encounters with art and culture in day care institutions). Børne- og undervisningsministeriet (Ministry for Children and Education) (2018). Dagtilbudsloven (Law of day care offer).
Antal sider3
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2021
BegivenhedBIN-NORDEN 2021: Designing for Play in New Nordic Childhood - Lego House, Billund, Danmark
Varighed: 3 mar. 20215 mar. 2021


KonferenceBIN-NORDEN 2021
LokationLego House


  • Børn og unge