I created this picture book as part of my Master’s course at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. The story tells of the arrival of wild animals in an empty playground, near a city. I had this idea during the first lockdown when the occupation of public spaces suddenly changed. Places that were usually busy became quiet and empty. It made me question the way we live and how we often forget about other living beings around us.
As I walked through the empty streets, I enjoyed imagining what might happen when we are not there. My original intention was to create situations where animals discover an empty playground, then imagine how they might adopt it.
Halfway through the story, humans from the city chase the animals away. They discover that a bear has settled in one of the children’s playhouses. It would be a very unusual thing to happen, since the story takes place in Western Europe where wild bears lived until the Middle Ages, before disappearing from the continent. And so it triggers a debate.
Finally, people let the animals stay in the park but they build a wall so that they can’t come into the town any more. It seems important to me to reflect a certain reality through this project, since the issues surrounding the management of unoccupied places, borders and migration are sensitive and politically charged subjects. The borders placed by humans are arbitrary and are not the same as those that delimit natural territories. A wall will never completely prevent passage from one place to another. The story ends with an invitation to share and to live together, even if the park is now enclosed by a wall.
Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels, Belgium