20 August 2007

Skateboarding Is Dead. Long Live Skateboarding

Above photos from the book 'Dirt Ollies.'

Just as I started to consider throwing my skateboard into the river, in response to all the X-lames madness, Dew Tours, parents coaching their children to be future pros and stories of British police taking skate classes in order to 'cultivate a cooler image' with the youth (wow, that would really ruin my session), I came across Dirt Ollies, a coffee table book that documents a skateboard trip to Mongolia.

In 2004, a group of eighteen skateboarders and photographers went to Mongolia after coming across an obscure photo of a dilapidated Mongolian skatepark. The idea was to find the park, help fix it up, hand out some boards to the local kids and support whatever scene was there while breathing in the smells, sounds and sights of a country most skateboarders would never even have on their radar as a potential destination. There is also an accompanying film, titled, Mongolian Tyres, that explains why they set out on such a mission and to what end . The result is beautifully unique documentation of a lesser-considered country and culture as seen through the warped perspective of several arty skateboarders.

It is good to see that despite the watering down and co-option and commodification of skateboarding, there is still an element integrity and creativity left. To me, this is what skateboarding is all about, a unique way to observe and interact with the world. In saying that, the film is far from perfect. It did have some corporate funding and there are some unfortunate narrow-minded statements made here and there. But it is honest, unlike the watered down bollocks we are fed on The Life of Ryan, or whatever else MTV/ESPN wants you to believe skateboarding is.

On a side note, I think there will be a continued trend of skateboarders seeking more and more remote destinations. At first pros would flock to cities that were bust free, then to 'undiscovered cities' to get photos and footage skateboarding on unique architecture with interesting back drops. Of course, average skateboarders are following suit and seeking out far flung destinations much like surfers have been doing since the 1970s. The results will inevitably be far more 'extreme,' and more importantly, interesting than who pulled what on the X-Games mega-ramp (Jesus, I cringe just typing those words), even if it is just a dirt ollie in outer Mongolia.

Seek it.