CURATOR’S COMMENTS: Board

California in the 1970’s experienced the worst drought in recorded history. People had to stop watering their lawns and soon pools started to dry up. Skaters took their boards from the streets to the lush curves of empty pools searching neighborhoods for no one home. Climbing fences, they skated in empty pools for hours perfecting tricks and moves that became revolutionary. It should come as no surprise that in the current economic climate the tradition of backyard pool skating is making a come back on foreclosed homes.

Now there are skateboard parks all over the United States that replicate empty pools. Over the course of two days I spent hours with skaters at Venice Skateboard Park in California. It wasn’t my initial intention frankly. I needed to escape the Los Angeles heat and get to the beach. But I just couldn’t resist exclusively shooting at the park. I snapped five hundred and twenty six pictures in two days. It was difficult editing through them. Not because of my artistry, but because of the artistry of the skaters.

Having spent a good amount of time there, I was able to see narratives unfold. In Rail, monographs No. 7 through 10  tell a little story about a young man sliding the board along a rail. He crashes so hard that he busts his leg and starts to cry in pain. My first instinct was to run to him or call 911. But I had to remember that I was there as an observer. One of his buds rushes over to him to tell him, “we don’t do that here. Get up.” The last frame says it all. His buds ease his pain with a joint.

In The Approach, three boys contemplate and have a serious discussion on how and who is going to enter the bowl. A hero appears, but ultimately becomes disengaged. In the meantime, an old schooler demands that they get out of his way. They watch how he enters the bowl with ease. Ultimately the kids are left with mustering the courage and taking the plunge.

In so doing, the skateboard culture continues.

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