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Carla da Silva : Stratford Centre. Reimagined Playground

Stratford Centre. Reimagined Playground is a collection of images looking at how youth countercultural groups of urban dancers, skateboarders and roller skaters reappropriate a commercial space in East London and reimagine a pluralist playground. The narratives of trespass and occupation of Stratford Centre – a ‘private-public’ space both used as a shopping centre and a 24-hour thoroughfare – are visually explored through photographs depicting moments of happiness, sharing, friendship and creative collaboration between young people.

This work challenges the concepts of public space and common right to the city by unveiling the marginalisation and exclusion of these young alternative cultures and the lack of formal urban spaces for (young) people to engage in different activities – more spontaneous and recreational than the ones of work and consumption.
Through subversive practices, the young people gathering at night in the underused space of the shopping centre reclaim and take back their right to socialise, express themselves and play. They suggest alternative and sensory rich ways of experiencing urban space and create possibilities of action that are not offered by the capitalist city.

Driven by the desire to positively represent this vibrant and inclusive place, this body of work attempts to convey something of the atmosphere of an open space characterised by a great social cohesion and performed by a community of young talented people.