Defying Boundaries

What started as an interactive art project by Swedish artist Johan Ferner Ström has the potential to become an all-inclusive sport that does not discriminate by age, gender or physical ability. “Puckelball” is an artistic impression of the phenomenon of European football (soccer) and how it resembles the playground of life, which is neither equilateral nor level.

A Puckelball goal

The ball doesn’t go where you want, the different halves of the field are not the same for everybody and the goals are definitely not the same size.

The football field’s injustices are negated by the varying skills and strengths of the players. The unevenness on the field of play makes the game fair in a remarkable way that invites a more imaginative way to play.

The possibility to play for girls and boys, old and young, skilled against unskilled, on equal conditions is encouraged.

But it started as a sculpture project. In an interview with the creator, LAB discovers what started this idea, and how it can be incorporated into mainstream programming.

LAB: When was the field in Sweden constructed?

Ström: The sculpture came to me as an idea back in 2002 in what was then Stockholm. After a change of government, it was decided that the land intended as the location for the project would not be used. The field was design-protected (trademarked) in 2003 before the project was actually presented to the city of Malmö in 2006; it was finished in 2009.

LAB: Can you give specifics on the field–how big is it? What is it made of?

Ström: The Puckelball arena is 25 by 40 meters (28 by 44 yards). Although additional fields may vary in proportion and design, the playing field should be around 1,000 square meters (roughly a quarter of an acre).

The plane is built of artificial turf with the underpinnings of rubber granules. The goals are individually designed and have a different location from one side of the field to the other. The pitch is built with artificial turf with the underpinnings of rubber granules that will tolerate hard usage. It is illuminated so people can play at night.

LAB: How is the game played?

Ström: I’m an artist. I don’t make the rules, I break them. Therefore, there are no rules. It’s up to the users. It should be spontaneous. The field is only a prerequisite.

An uneven playing field actually evens the playing field.

LAB: What is the duration of the game?

Ström: Well, you know, it is life-long. The game and the philosophical idea belong to a life-long learning process. Why not start here and have some fun on the way?

LAB: Who is this game intended for?

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