Shepard Fairey: The Public Space Issue 30th Anniversary Archive - Kevin Pearce Thomas Campbell - Evan Hecox
ÂŁ4.25 | issue 30 Dec 2011/Jan 2012 Shepard Fairey by Mustafah Abdulaziz
THE EVIL TWIN GOT EVEN BETTER ARTIST EDITION WITH PHOTOGRAPHERS PETROVSKY & RAMONE
KYLE LOPICCOLO RIDES EVIL TWIN ARTIST EDITION PHOTO: KEVIN WESTENBARGER
F O U N D AT I O N S P O T S B Y M I K E B E L L E M E
THE ARCHIVE SPECIAL
F E AT U R I N G SHAUN WHITE BEASTIE BOYS TONY HAWK MARK GONZALES maya gabeira L A I R D H A M I LT O N BAM MARGERA miranda j uly A N D M O R e…
T he B ig S tories 36 S H E PA R D F A I R E Y 48 F O U N D AT I O N S P O T S 52 JIM RIPPEY 56 THOMAS CAMPBELL 62 K E V I N P E A R C E 68 E VA N H E C O X 70 DETROIT EMCEES 76 T H E S O L I TA R Y A R T S 80 T H E T R AV E L L E R S ’ D I L E M M A 86 JOHN JOHN FLORENCE 92 R E C L A I M P U B L I C S PA C E
ENDNOTES 100 T R I S TA N M A N C O 104 WAY N E W H I T E 106 LUZINTERRUPTUS 108 B A S TA R D I L L A EVOL 110 112 E VA N R O T H 114 S ources
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Jamal Edwards, IntErnEt BroadcastEr, FoundEr sBtV
K E V I N P E A R C E B Y E mbry R ucker
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Translations Markus Grahlmann Words Bastardilla, Mike Belleme, Rob Boffard, Thomas Campbell, Jon Coen, Evol, Luzinterruptus, Tristan Manco, Evan Roth, Cyrus Shahrad, Alex Welsh, Wayne White, Olly Zanetti Images Mustafah Abdulaziz, Bastardilla, Mike Belleme, Thomas Campbell, Evol, Liz and Max Haarala Hamilton, ANDREW HOLDER, Luzinterruptus, Isaac McKay-Randozzi, Evan Hecox, Andrew Paynter, Evan Roth, Embry Rucker, Mary Turner, Alex Welsh, Wayne White, Ariel Zambelich
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The articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinions of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial team. This publication is made with paper from sustainable sources. Huck is published six times a year.
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Five years and thirty issues ago, HUCK took its first step into the publishing game. Back then – and it feels like ages ago – print was supposed to be dead, high-frequency trading was the only show in town and kids still had jobs to go to when they finished college. Inspired by Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, we clung to the raft as we threw ourselves downstream – defying the naysayers with our belief that compelling words and beautifully curated photos HAD yet to find their match. And guess what, we’re still here today – taking the radical heritage of surf, skate and snowboarding and applying it to whatever we think is cool, relevant and zeitgeisty out there. The world over, school kids and workers alike are compelled to down tools and head for the ocean whenever the waves are good. As in, fuck work, I’m gonna go surfing. There’s something beautifully subversive about that single act of adolescent rebellion. We’d like to think HUCK captures a little bit of that spirit. What follows is a retrospective of the first thirty issues. Hope you’ve enjoyed ’em as much as the next thirty or more to come.
Vince Medeiros, HUCK FOUNDER AND PUBLISHER.
“I think it has to do w i t h t h e fa c t t h at I h av e g i l l s o n m y back. Yep, I’m a mutant like Kevin Costner in Wat e r w o r l d . I wa s at s e a f o r t h e l a s t eighteen years, and n o w t h at I ’ v e f o u n d l a n d I ’ m s o h a p p y. “ Shaun White, 2006.
TOP HUCK 01: Shaun White text Zoe Oksanen images Kevin Zacher. HUCK 01: ireland dreaming images Spencer Murphy. HUCK 02: shepard fairey text Andrea Kurland images Shepard Fairey. HUCK 03: South BOTTOM HUCK 01: Shaun White text Zoe Oksanen images Kevin Zacher. HUCK 02: i hooligan text Michael Fordham images Paul Willoughby. HUCK 03: beastie boys text Bruno Torturra Nogueira and Filipe Luna
“I’m not a proponent of anarchy. But a lot of laws that don’t benefit anyone get slipped in as a form of control. I just think people should be more proactive in taking advantage of democracy, and pay attention to what’s going on.“ Shepard Fairey, 2006.
“If you ask people if they feel that the government represents them, by and large people are gonna say no. They feel so disconnected from the process; they don’t feel that there are any means for them to be involved to actually make a difference.“ Mike D, 2007.
african pools text Miles Masterson images Barry Tuck. images Maya Hayuk. HUCK 04: tony hawk text Jay Riggio images Kevin Zacher.
“I wanna make m y a r t l ike a shel l – n o t hi ng there, l ike no c o nt e nt – because I fee l t hat ’ s the way the masse s are. And I feel l ik e art sho ul d rep r e se nt what the peo ple a r e .“ Mark Gonzales, 2007.
TOP HUCK 04: tony hawk text Jay Riggio images Kevin Zacher. HUCK 05: mark gonzales text Jay Riggio images Joe Brook. BOTTOM HUCK 04: tony hawk text Jay Riggio images Kevin Zacher. HUCK 05: mark gonzales text Jay Riggio images Joe Brook.
“Style should be what happens w he n y o u a c t t h e w ay you see fit; a byp r o d u c t o f w h at you are doing. You take b i ts and pi e c e s fro m what you se e and make i t yo u r o wn.“ Ed Templeton, 2007. TOP HUCK 05: mark gonzales text Jay Riggio images Joe Brook. HUCK 06: laird hamilton text Alex Wade images Kevin Zacher. BOTTOM HUCK 05: jihad khodr text Sidney Tenucci Jr images Rafael Dabul. HUCK 06: ed templeton text Andrea Kurland images Deanna Templeton. HUCK 06: south africa surf text Miles Masterson images Richard Johnson.
“ W h e n y o u h av e a p e o p l e s e pa r at e f r o m a n o t h e r p e o p l e , n at i o n s e pa r at e from another nation, it makes you feel different or alone and that’s where all the problems come from.“ Victoria Jealouse, 2007.
“ B o b M a r l e y s ay ’ o n e love’, and everyone thi nk Rasta abo ut o ne l o v e w h e n i t ’ s n o t. It’s about discipline, tradition, righteousness and empowerment.“ Priest Radcliffe, 2008.
TOP HUCK 07: victoria jealouse text Andrea Kurland images Jess Mooney. HUCK 07: danny way text Steven Frohlich images Spencer Murphy. HUCK 08: portland skate images Mattia Zoppellaro. HUCK 08: bam BOTTOM HUCK 07: john john florence images Richie Hopson. HUCK 08: boboshanti jamaica text Sarah Bentley images Debbie Bragg. HUCK 09: bruce gold text Miles Masterson images Richard Johnson. HUCK
margera text Jay Riggio images Nate Bressler. 09: de-trash the planet images Spencer Murphy.
“ Yo u c a n ’ t s k ateb oa r d w e l l w it h o u t hav in g so m e s o r t o f a n open m i nd be c a us e t he w h ole act o f s k at e boa r di n g is ove r c o min g o bs ta cles . “ Stacy Peralta, 2008.
“It seems cl ear to me that al l tri cks are i nsi de yo u ju st as much as al l drawi ng s a r e inside yo u. E very th i ng el se o n the o uts ide i s j ust in t he way.“ Geoff McFetridge, 2008.
TOP HUCK 10: stacy peralta text Jay Riggio images Nate Bressler. HUCK 11: Scott bourne text Jay Riggio images Stéphanie Solinas and Bertrand Trichet. HUCK 11: doc paskowitz text Andrea Kurland images Nate Bressler. BOTTOM HUCK 10: god of thunder text and images Thor Jonsson. HUCK 11: MCFETRIDGE'S MANIFESTO text and images Geoff McFetridge.
flexible wood manly package. welcome to the team phil. // INTRODUCING THE PLATOON. Oversized for your pleasure. The biggest, cleanest, most modern goggle we make.
“One thing I learned about Tokyo: all the best stuff happens down narrow l an e s , o ft e n u nd er tr ain tr a cks . I n tim a c y w i t h t he cit y ta kes pla ce n o t o n t h e bi g b ou leva r d s a n d main s t re e t s , b u t o ff th e b eat en t r a ck, b e h in d dr a p e - cover ed d oor s you h ave t o duc k u n d er .” Jamie Brisick, 2008.
TOP HUCK 12: japan surf text and images Jamie Brisick. HUCK 12: Stephanie gilmore text Alex Wade images Patricia Niven. BOTTOM HUCK 11: Brixton throwdown images Mattia Zoppellaro. HUCK 11: Harold hunter memorial text Jay Riggio images Paul Calver. HUCK 13: nicolas mŰller text Gemma Freeman images Lozza.
have the look
© 2011 adidas AG. adidas, the Trefoil, and the 3-Stripes mark are registered trademarks of the adidas Group. Silhouette Int. Schmied AG, adidas Global Licensee. © 2011 adidas AG. Le nom adidas, le logo trèfle et la marque aux 3 Bandes sont des marques desposées par le Groupe adidas. pic ©: Alex Förderer
“I l ove mus i c, but it’s no t abo ut me – i t’s abo ut the audi ence and ho w t h e y f e e l . T h at ’ s w h at I g e t a h i g h from. I get high off of seeing them li ke so methi ng .“ Pharrell Williams, 2009.
TOP HUCK 13: Goth reportage text Sarah Bentley images Debbie Bragg. HUCK 14: london couriers images Paul Calver. HUCK 15: maya gabeira text Giuliano Cedroni images Christian Gaul. HUCK 16: mos def text BOTTOM HUCK 14: pharrell williams text Richard Cunynghame images Grant Robinson. HUCK 15: Pit bull ballet images Josh Cole. HUCK 16: Silver surfers images Mark Leary. HUCK 16: roadkill
â&#x20AC;&#x153; Li ke G hand i sa i d, yo u have to be the c hang e that yo u wanna see. At the same ti me, peo pl e in po wer have to be cal l ed to so me so rt o f acco untab i li ty.â&#x20AC;&#x153; Mos Def, 2009.
Tim Donnelly images Andrew Dosunmu. subsistence text Cyrus Shahrad images Spencer Murphy.
“ I t r y , w h at e v e r I ’ m m a k I n g , t o m a k e so methIng I’m eXcIted abo ut, whatever form It’s In, whether somebody’s gIvIng me a budget to do It or I’m just doIng It wIth my frIends. I basIcally approach It al l fro m the same spIrIt.“ SPiKe JONZe, 2009.
“parents need to adj ust to the tImes, l et theIr kIds gro w up and cho o se theIr own path but alway s be a guIdIng l Ig ht.“ GiGi RŰF, 2009.
TOP HUCK 17: motorCyCle diarieS text and images Scott Bourne. HUCK 18: WHere tHe Wild tHingS are images Shawn Records. HUCK 18: geoff mCfetridge text Andrea Kurland images Geoff McFetridge. HUCK BOTTOM HUCK 18: Cold Water Canada images Guy Martin. HUCK 18: gig rŰf text Gemma Freeman images yves Suter. HUCK 18: SpiKe jonze tribUte text and images Mark Lewman. HUCK 20: yvon CHoUinard
“ T hat’s the pro bl em w i th the world. Everyone’s buying stuff they don’t need. How do we break that cycle?“ Yvon Chouinard, 2010.
19: my new york winter images Bryan Derballa. text Michael Fordham images Patagonia. HUCK 20: the kids of hate and love text and images Mike Belleme.
“ A s a c h i l d I wa n t e d t o b e a n a s t r o n a u t, b u t t h e n I kind of think of myself a s a n a s t r o n a u t a n y way because I’m always visiting different places and taking a sample from those pl aces . “ Ari Marcopoulos, 2010.
“ Ri g h t n o w i s a g i f t ; t o c a l l it the present couldn’t be a b e t t e r t i t l e f o r i t, b e c a u s e i t ’ s a g i f t. “ Stephen Carpenter, 2010.
TOP HUCK 19: ari marcopoulos text Shelley Jones images Ari Marcopoulos. HUCK 21: roller derby text Shannon Denny images Niall O’Brien. HUCK 23: kelly slater text Michael Fordham images Guy Martin. HUCK BOTTOM HUCK 21: deftones text Tom Bryant images Mustafah Abdulaziz. HUCK 23: ali boulala text Jay Riggio images Robin Nilssen. HUCK 24: action as art images Sébastien Anex. HUCK 25: john cardiel text
“You cannot change people. B u t you can may be ch a n ge t he sy stem so that people are not pushed into d o in g evil th ing s.“ Slavoj ŽiŽek, 2011.
23: andy irons tribute text Matt Walker images Pat Stacy. HUCK 26: rivers cuomo text Gavin Edwards images Ariel Zambelich. HUCK 26: rWANDA BIKES text Antonia Windsor images Greg Funnell. Ed Andrews images Justin Maxon. HUCK 26: slavoj ŽiŽek text Vince Medeiros images Mustafah Abdulaziz.
“I do n’t th i nk I’m a di ssi dent arti st. I see them as a dissident g overnment.“ Ai Weiwei, 2010.
“ Skat ebo ard i ng st i l l has a s t i g m a at ta c h e d t o i t, even t ho ug h we kno w it’s the coolest thing in the w o r l d . Y o u c a n ’ t r e a l ly w on d er what so c i ety has planned for people my a ge. “ Elissa Steamer, 2011.
TOP HUCK 27: miranda july text Dan Crane images Daryl Peveto. HUCK 28: ai weiwei text John Sunyer images Chris Gall. HUCK 29: travis rice text Natalie Langmann images Rafal Gerszak. BOTTOM HUCK 26: ramallah reportage text Polly Fields images Guy Martin. HUCK 27: elissa steamer text Andrea Kurland images Ariel Zambelich. HUCK 28: andrew reynolds text Ed Andrews images Lou Mora.
W h a t t h e HUCK ? E v e r f e lt a s i f yo u a r e pa d d l i n g against the flow? A ragged and privileged purveyor of the freedom principle, Huck represents the flowering of innocence and rebellion – and the contemporary inevitability of their failure. W e ’ r e a l l H u c k Fi n n n o w . I n s i d e r s murmur about the core and the periphery whilst corporate billboards sell cool runnings in the form of softly seamed cotton, a surfboard placed casually in the foreground. Retro-styled sports-utility suckers buy into a bearded-and-plaid wrought affinity with the earth through organic inks and uncoated paper. The eddies of progress tug us further towards the treacherous b a n k s . T h e r e ’ s n o way o u t. O r i s there? You strike out alone and get sucked into the maw of the masses. You seek to escape but destroy the very things you fetishise. Drifting downstream, we’re clinging to the raft and r e f u s i n g t o b e c i v i l iS e d . B u t c a n we possibly escape the inevitable? Keep paddling. Just keep paddling.
ORIGINAL MANIFESTO, HUCK 01, 2006.
In 2008, Shepard Fairey helped the world see Barack Obama as an iconic torchbearer of positive change. One presidential term later and disillusionment has spread where h o p e o n c e s t o o d . N o w, h a v i n g l i v e d t h r o u g h criticism, court cases and commercial success, the skate punk-turned-street art entrepreneur is ready to back his own campaign. Interview Jon Coen Photography Mustafah Abdulaziz
omeone stole our stencils,” announces Shepard Fairey. Just this morning, Fairey and his crew threw up a series of record-sleeve stencils on the north side of Asbury Park’s Sunset Pavilion. They’d begun another on a west-facing wall before they broke for lunch. When they returned, they were a few stencils down. The situation drips with irony. Here’s one of the best-known street artists in the world – a subversive visionary whose illegal work helped stamp his name onto the pop culture landscape – and while he’s granted permission to legally adorn walls in the ‘safe’ waterfront area of a city undergoing a slow resurgence, the outlaw-turned-folk hero gets his stuff nicked – most likely by fans of his work. Welcome to Asbury Park, New Jersey. Fairey is in town for the week doing a series of pieces, both wheat paste and stencil jobs, on the once-glorious architecture from this city’s heyday that has since fallen into disrepair. The corruption, fires, race riots, economic ruin and subsequent ghost-town status that Bruce Springsteen wrote about were real. But this town was never dead. Home to legendary clubs, it has since become a countercultural capital. More than a decade ago, the skaters, artists, small businesses, gay nightclub owners and musicians (a Shep Fairey crowd if ever there was one) staked out a little piece on the Atlantic Ocean that no one else wanted and made Asbury Park their home. Today, you can find mate tea, Ceviche de Pargo and Avalon Cabernet. There was a push for a topless beach. The boardwalk offers Balinese jewellery and locally shaped twin-fins. There are tattoo conventions, roller derbies, bike shows and lesbian kickball games. But it’s always been about the rock. That’s what brings people here. That’s what brought Fairey here, too. First he agreed to do the poster art for All Tomorrow’s Parties, the American version of the British festival by the record company of the same name, which is curated by a different artist each year. But then longtime friend Jonathan LeVine, best known for turning DIY creativity into something wealthy people will hang on their walls, asked him to do an art show and leave his mark on the slowly transforming ‘Debris by the Sea’.
Fairey was born in Charleston,
Carolina, in 1970. Like many of his contemporaries, his youth pivoted
their own stickers. By 1995, I figured out how to rig the copiers at Kinko’s. That’s where the three-colour style originally came from.”
around the freedom afforded by four wheels and a plank of wood. His
Working on larger-scale, propaganda-style posters, he became a
teenage years unfolded in the eighties, a time when subversive art
player in global street art before the ‘scene’ even had a name. Combining
and revolutionary music existed in the context of the underground, as
his art education, sense of humour, countercultural background
most of society was still pre-occupied with materialism. After being
and political leanings, Fairey’s work created a powerful reaction. It’s
expelled from the North Carolina School of the Arts for skateboarding
populist art in the rawest form; you don’t have to nibble Havarti cheese
on campus one too many times, his parents sent him to Idyllwild
and grapes in a gallery to see it. It’s right there in your environment –
School of Music and Arts in Los Angeles. But as a kid, graffiti wasn’t
some might say, in your face. And while it is a message in and of itself, it
really part of his environment. That influence would come later.
challenges you to think about the others that bombard us all day.
In 1988, he started college at the Rhode Island School of Design.
“It’s impermanent and it’s free,” explains Fairey. “While it exists,
Within a year, he had created the ‘Andre the Giant Has a Posse’ sticker –
some people will really dig it, and other people might not like it. But
an irreverent, black and white image of a pro wrestler that would go on to
it’s contributing to the dialogue. There’s something that’s so basic in
became the face of a phenomenon. Plastering the sticker on any surface he
doing something to relate to your fellow human beings.”
could find, Fairey used the monotone image to spread an idea – a message he disseminated like a campaign. “The Obey Giant campaign is about not being blindly obedient,” explained Fairey during his first interview with HUCK in 2006. “I guess it’s a question-everything philosophy I’m
Asbury Park has been called
an ‘East Coast
Dogtown’. But like anywhere with a Californian counterpart, the heavens
trying to put across.” This idea of ‘obeying’ parodied the overwhelming
hit harder here. During a proper New Jersey summer, the hipsters drawn
consumerism perpetuated by the system. Even if it looked like an obscure
to All Tomorrow’s Parties could easily fall prey to dehydration. But by
inside joke, it stuck out. For the cost of adhesive, Fairey’s sarcastic tone
mid-October, the winds blowing off the Atlantic would make a Siberian
challenged us to think, among a million voices telling us to buy.
cry. It’s late-September, and even this shoulder season of apparent bliss
Upon graduating, he started a small screen-printing business (with a
is throwing up conditions that play havoc with outdoor art.
skate ramp on site) in Providence, Rhode Island, called Alternate Graphics.
Fairey and his crew started out on a Thursday morning. Though it
He took out classified ads in Flipside Fanzine and Slap, offering Posse
was overcast, the weather was mostly pleasant as they moved over to do
stickers to anyone who would send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
a 300 square-metre wheat-paste mural on the side of Asbury Lanes. “It’s
“People wanted to find out about it, so I was getting six to ten envelopes
actually a lot less stressful doing this kind of stuff,” says Fairey, rocking a
a day. I sent them back, explaining it was a social and psychological
T-shirt and torn jeans, effortlessly holding a conversation while rolling
experiment,” says Fairey today. “It was like a punk rock chain letter and
paste onto a poster. “It’s a lot more fun. The problem is, I never just get
it was free. Sometimes I would send a proof sheet so they could xerox
to do this. There’s always other shit lingering in the background.”
Established in 1966, the Lanes is a bowling alley-cum-punk club on Fourth Avenue that has since been revived to host bands, art shows and burlesque performances. With a stage on top of the lanes, a vintage bar and kitchen that serves famous buckets of Tater Tots, it’s an indie venue where one can crush PBRs, chuck 7-10 splits and hear anything from folk to hardcore. Technically, the mural is on the eastfacing wall of the Fast Lane, a defunct club between Asbury Lanes and a vacant lot that hosted everyone from U2 to Fishbone in the eighties.
“It’s impermanent and it’s free. While it exists, some p e o p l e wi l l r e a l ly d i g i t, a n d o t h e r people might not l i k e i t. B u t i t ’ s c o n t r ib u t i n g t o t h e d i a l o g u e .”
Today, Fairey has chosen to immortalise the images of six punk rock icons with a “Mount Rush-core” in his trademark three tones. “It goes chronologically: Joey Ramone, then Johnny Rotten, Joe Strummer, Glenn Danzig, Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins,” he explains, taking a breather and sucking down a Diet Coke, a healthy coat of paste on his hands and pants. “All of their bands were really influential for me. Most people consider the Ramones the first punk band. It seemed like every punk rocker had the Sex Pistols as a point of reference. That was how I got into The Clash. Ian and Henry could be occupying the same slot, but because Minor Threat was going before Henry joined Black Flag, that’s the way I did it. There are other people that I could have included, but I think those six are the most important.” Fairey doesn’t fuck around. Though he’s got many hands helping him today, he created the images, and when it comes time to throw up the panels, he’s not about to kick back and watch his four-man crew do all the dirty work. He’s up on the lift, hands covered in paste, placing and rolling the image onto the wall. It’s work that will tear up your back and burn out your knees. The day’s playlist rolls from early Misfits to The Clash’s reggae beats, furious under-one-minute Minor Threat offerings, Sex Pistols snot, a few tracks off Damaged, Fugazi singalongs, and eerie Danzig Lucifuge-era crooning. Thankfully, ‘Rock the Kasbah’ is omitted.
“Does this count?” asks Fairey, “It’s Black Flag, but with Keith Morris singing.” It counts. As Shepard and co work away, a crowd gathers to watch, consisting mostly of young art-types visibly floored to have Fairey in town. Among the crowd is Juicy Jenn Hampton sitting on a truck. She’s co-owner of the Parlor Gallery on Cookman Avenue. She books shows at Asbury Lanes and has even been known to bounce an unruly patron. “From an artist and a gallery owner’s point of view, it’s beyond exciting to have Shepard here,” she says. “But even for the people who don’t know who he is, it’s equally exciting. Public art, in the form that Shepard does, brings excitement and hope to a community like ours.” Fairey and his crew work well past dark and finally knock off for a late dinner. That night, the gods piss down a torrent of rain that continues
“The first portrait was based on the i d e a o f Ob a m a as a symbol o f w h at c o u l d ta k e p l a c e – the progress I wanted to see. T h at h a s n ’ t h a p p e n e d .”
leader emerged. Not only did he seem to have different ideas about the way society could be, but he listened to Jay-Z and Bob Dylan. He bodysurfed Hawaii. He mentioned punk rock twice in his autobiography. The very idea that his campaign poster was made by a countercultural figure like Fairey propelled that swelling river of positivity. He was one of us – only he was smart and handsome enough to infiltrate the establishment. “I looked at Obama as a foot in the door,” says Fairey. “We believed that there would be younger blood that would change the political culture in Washington. That hasn’t happened. Some people say, ‘You can’t change Washington. Washington can only change you.’ I couldn’t be a politician.” In 2009, Fairey designed a new piece depicting a more stressed-out President for the cover of Rolling Stone. Any affiliation with the White House has always been on his own
Friday morning before Fairey moves
terms. “I was approached by the
Obama campaign to make a poster
architectural gems built in 1929. After
for the 2012 election, and of course
decades of dereliction, this former
I’m not going to make a portrait of
skating rink, which used to house a carousel, became a skatepark run by
him,” he explains. “The first portrait was based on the idea of Obama as
a motorcycle club. Fairey fights the wind to get up ‘The Rebel Waltz’ – a
a symbol of what could take place – the progress I wanted to see. That
tribute to Paul Simonon of The Clash. But that’s hardly Fairey’s biggest
hasn’t happened. He’s a known quantity now. So, I asked, ‘What are
problem. The downpour over at Asbury Lanes has created a vertical
his policies this time around? What is his message?’ If it’s something I
river over Joe Strummer’s face, never allowing the paste to dry.
agree with, I’ll make a poster that’s about that message. Creating a poster
This is part of the reason he moved to California in 1996. “When I
for him was never about unconditional Obama worship. People like to
was living in Solana Beach, I could actually work in the driveway and let
simplify things. You’re dealing with a poster – a medium that requires
work dry outside overnight,” he remembers. Setting down roots on the
simplification. Supporting him was a way of supporting individual things
West Coast, Fairey matured his business sense and in 1999 he created a
that I had made art about: opposition to the war in Iraq, support for green
design firm with Dave Kinsey and Phillip de Wolff called BLK/MRKT,
energy, reducing the power of lobbyists, healthcare reform, belief that
uncannily timed with tremendous growth in the action sports industry.
climate change is a reality. Obama was pushing for all of those things in
In 2001, the Obey movement became a clothing brand. Fairey married
his campaign that didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped they would.”
his wife Amanda and eventually parted ways with Kinsey and de Wolff,
Since Obama’s inauguration, hope has given way to disillusionment:
dissolving BLK/MRKT and creating Studio Number One in 2003. From
the US is involved in three wars; unemployment has become a lifestyle;
the split, he and Amanda also grew Subliminal Projects 2, an LA art
his healthcare bill was gutted; corporations have more reach into our
gallery on Sunset Blvd. In 2006, they put out a hardcover book, Supply
lives than ever; and the limping global economy has been shot in the
and Demand, which would serve as a portfolio of his now vast body of
knees. He’s made questionable decisions to open areas of the sea to oil
street and commercial work.
drilling and appointed former corporate kingpins to senior positions.
In 2010, he played a big role in the underground release of Exit
“I did feel like Obama was one of us,” says Fairey. “My sense is that he’s
Through the Gift Shop, a film in which London-based mastermind Banksy
trusting people who are telling him not to do things because it’s not good
turned the camera onto filmmaker Thierry Guetta to create an ingenious documentary that forces you to question street art’s meteoric rise. But
for his career, not allowing him to use his gut.” In November, Fairey released a poster in support of the Occupy Wall
it’s the work that he created (off his own back) to accompany Barack
Street movement, a parody of his own Obama ‘Hope’ poster, featuring
Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign that really made Shepard Fairey a
a hooded Guy Fawkes mask in place of Obama, with the words, ‘Mister
household name. His ‘Hope’ poster – a propaganda-style portrait of the
President, We Hope You’re On Our Side.’ It challenged Barack Obama to
would-be president that interchangeably carried the words ‘Progress’ or
support the ninety-nine per cent instead of Wall Street, with its tradition
‘Change’ – became the symbol for a generation rooting for a fresh start.
of corruption and imbalanced power.
Hope. There was no better word. Here was a disenfranchised
On the other hand, LeVine, who has worked with Fairey since 1998
demographic who had long ago given up on systems out of touch with
and hosted his pivotal show E Pluribus Venom in 2007, feels the Obama
their views. Then, after a decade of infidelity, lies, nepotism, war,
campaign helped legitimise Shepard Fairey, and street art as a whole.
economic collapse, environmental degradation and corporate crimes, a
“Even as recognisable as his name was in 2007, you know how hard it
would have been to get a legal wall? Now I call up a city like Asbury Park and they’re like, ‘What? Shepard Fairey? Here you go.’ It’s much easier. And that allows him to do some gigantic, super-ambitious projects.” And because of those projects, Shepard Fairey has taken a lot of shit. That’s just the way it goes when you pop your head up from the underground. He’s had his art destroyed by both authorities and antiauthorities. He’s been arrested some sixteen times; most famously by the Beantown PD when he arrived in Boston for his solo show Supply and Demand at the Institute of Contemporary Art. He’s been bashed by thugs, splashed by haters and trashed by bloggers (both credible and non). He’s also been sued. Over the course of three years, Fairey’s been embroiled in a lawsuit with Associated Press, who accused him of basing his ‘Hope’ poster on a copyrighted image taken by photographer Mannie Garcia. Fairey felt that he was free to interpret any image in his own artwork under the terms of fair use. Eventually, both parties agreed to settle on an undisclosed sum in January 2011. “Fairey, for a long time, has used the radical and revolutionary art of the past for profit, without proper credit given,” says Patrick St. Johns, a graphic designer from Boston who works for campaigns and coalitions, like the Progressive States Network, geared towards social change. As an activist himself, St. Johns has been openly critical of Fairey’s work and choices. “It’d be one thing if the art was famous, like Che Guevara’s face, but he often pulls from beautiful and obscure sources – a lot of imagery from the Black Panthers, the Young Lords Party, turn-of-the-century labour unions and others. Fairey’s modus operandi is to find a compelling piece of design or art, usually from a social movement, strip it of all its original meaning, run it through a few Adobe programs, and turn it into a commodity. The result is that when people buy an Obey T-shirt or poster with this gorgeous illustration on it, they have no idea that most of the conceptual and artistic heavy lifting was done decades ago, by someone Fairey would prefer to keep anonymous. There’s plenty of room for Fairey to give credit where credit’s due, but he doesn’t. Otherwise people might find out that the original artists were much more genuinely radical than the ‘radical-chic’ of Fairey’s defanged derivatives. It’d be atrocious enough if it was a top corporate ad firm doing this, but what makes it even worse is that Fairey’s claiming to be political himself.” It’s a line Fairey’s heard time and time again, but that’s not to say he’s about to take it lying down. “I find it a bit absurd that ten or so images I made ten or more years ago – out of the hundreds I’ve made – have yielded the narrative that I don’t make original work,” he explains. “When I began my Obey Giant project in 1989, I was completely immersed in skate and punk culture where appropriation and homage were prevalent. At that time I was not even thinking about being taken seriously by the art world. [...] Part of what I was doing was making a comparison between advertising and propaganda, so in a few of my posters I not only utilised the style of propaganda posters, but also elements from what I thought were well-known propaganda images to make it obvious to the viewer that I was simultaneously making and critiquing propaganda. I was never trying to suggest I was the author of images; I assumed everyone knew I had appropriated and re-mixed them, and I was actually very surprised when people tried to suggest that I was being sneaky or unethical. I looked at it like listening to The Clash covering Lee Perry or The Bobby Fuller Four, or the Sex Pistols covering Eddie Cochrane or The Stooges; I was paying tribute to my influences.”
By Thursday afternoon, Fairey
antsy for some phone time with Amanda and his two daughters, Vivienne and Madeline. He finishes with another quick hit at the Parlor Gallery. It’s a recognisable Fairey stencil of flowers springing from the barrels of machine guns. Like any dad on the road, he knows the more frequently he checks in, the smoother his time away will be.
“ T h e l ib e r t a r i a n i d e a t h at e v e r y person has a right to define their existence in the w ay t h e y f e e l b e s t – I g e t t h at. B u t when his or her own selfish needs come before the general collective need, then it b e c o m e s a p r o b l e m .”
That evening, the reception for Revolutions (Fairey’s weekend-
message. Studio Number One counts Pepsi-Cola, Dewar’s Scotch,
long art show as part of All Tomorrow’s Parties) opens in a pop-
Coca-Cola, Motorola, Nike Soccer, Saks Fifth Avenue and Ugg Australia
up location on the Asbury Boardwalk with some eighty pieces
among its clients. Unsurprisingly, Fairey’s long been a target of venom
that resemble twelve-inch record sleeves. Prints of punk icons sit
from those who’ve watched him transition from dangerous ledges to
alongside their hip hop counterparts – 2Pac, Flavor Flav, Chuck D,
Mountain Dew ads.
Biggie Smalls, LL Cool J and Slick Rick.
St. John notes: “There are quite a few clients that have serious ethical
At an after-party at the Lanes, Fairey commands the turntables,
issues. Levi's and Nike are still [allegedly] mistreating their overseas
busting out his old-school influences. And of course, the makeover
manufacturing workers, according to an April report by ITGLWF [The
he’s given these old bricks draws a lot of attention. “You expect to
International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation]. Coca-
see public art in large cities, but not necessarily in small towns,” says
Cola Mexico is [accused of] exploiting Mexico's fresh-water supplies and
Juicy Jenn. “Public art helps with cleaning up bad graffiti – and in our
pushing privatisation – it takes three cups of water to produce one cup
town, to not have gang tags around is important in making people
of Coke. There are better soda companies out there. There are better
feel safe. When Shepard was doing the murals, people that I would
clothing manufacturers out there. He and his firm are superstars, and
have never expected to see were offering help, asking questions about
are very clearly in-demand. They have much more of a choice of clients
the images, and asking about his work. I think that it was such a gift,
than other agencies. As a designer, be my guest if you want to do work for
that Shepard and Jonathan LeVine were super kind to give.”
firms like Coke, but don’t convince yourself that you can magically hang
In a matter of two days, he’s given a lot to this community. Fairey
up your moral and political values when you get to work in the morning.”
wasn’t paid to do the murals or deejay, but the entire Revolutions
But in Fairey’s head, each choice makes sense. “For years, I had to
show sold out before it even opened. ‘Rebel Waltz’ fetched $10k; the
do commercial work to survive,” explains Fairey, stating that Studio
Obey brand itself is a multinational apparel company.
Number One has refused work from Hummer, Camel and an aluminium
“Some people act like compassion and capitalism are mutually
skateboard company. “So the whole idea that I became a successful
exclusive,” says Fairey over a brick-oven pizza at Porta, a new Asbury
street artist so that I could then capitalise on my cred to cash in is absurd.
eatery that was a gay strip club two years ago. “I totally disagree with
I had to do the commercial work to perpetuate my street art. Now, the
that. The libertarian idea that every person has a right to define their
cool thing is that I don’t have to do any commercial work. The only
existence in the way they feel best – I get that. But when his or her
things I do commercially these days are things that tie in with what I’m
own selfish needs come before the general collective need, then it
excited about culturally. If it’s the Led Zeppelin Greatest Hits album or
becomes a problem. There’s this idea that it’s one way or another
the Johnny Cash Walk the Line movie, those are all things that tie into
– either the welfare nanny state or guns, no immigrants, SUVs and
something I’m interested in. [...] I drink Diet Coke all day, every day. I
‘fuck the environment because God’s gonna work it out’.” Clearly, Fairey can’t fly a flag (or tag for that matter) with a socialist
may not agree with every single thing that a company does, but overall, I don’t think that all they do is damage to the world.”
Even controversial decisions – like taking on the Saks Fifth Avenue
Fairey’s illustration for Feeding America, which featured his
‘Want It!’ campaign, a socialist propaganda parody that flaunts
daughter holding up a bowl, led to huge brand recognition for the
unadulterated consumerism – are all part of a bigger picture. “Our studio
organisation. “An artist of that note giving unlimited rights to his work
was struggling and I didn’t want to have to let go of good people who work
is priceless to a non-profit,” says spokesperson Ross Fraser. And more
for me, whose insurance I pay,” explains Fairey. “I wanted them to keep
recently, Fairey evoked an image reminiscent of sixties’ Civil Rights
their jobs. And I thought what they did for that campaign was somewhat
activism for an Occupy Wall Street/Times Square demonstration. “I’m
subversive. I thought it was hilarious.” And like every experience, Fairey
making art because I want to make it, but also to comment on things
has taken something from the backlash. “[People believe in] the idea
that I think are socially important. To get feedback that actually makes a
that art should be pure – that for all the crap that we have to deal with,
difference – there’s nothing more rewarding than that.”
at least art is this oasis of integrity and purity. And the fact that people were saddened that I had compromised that, made me realise that what I’ve done for all these years with such passion and intensity is actually meaningful,” he adds.
His detractors would like
to point out that
he’s more of a MoMA’s boy than a street hood these days. But people like
What can’t be debated is his willingness to support movements
LeVine get it. Fairey still does illegal art, but calls it a delicate subject;
that he believes in. One out of every three Fairey posters has a charity
even if your work is hanging in the Smithsonian, you can be on probation
component. Donating prints and skate decks to countless fundraising
with Johnny Law. He still stickers LA. Last summer he was bombing in
causes, from the Red Cross to Skateistan, Fairey has generated literally
Copenhagen and then worked in New York for a month (although his
hundreds of thousands of dollars.
cover was blown immediately when a Williamsburg fan recognised him
“I’ve made posters for lots of [charitable] organisations like Hope
staking out a wall).
for Darfur, The Surfrider Foundation, and a documentary called Urban
“To me, it’s still a way to connect with the younger person whose only
Roots that supports urban farming initiatives,” says Fairey. There’s
way to see subversive art is in the street,” says Fairey, who maintains the
even an Obey Awareness programme, which sees Fairey donating 100
wiry physique of a twenty-year-old, despite the encroaching grey dome.
per cent of T-shirt sales to specific causes. Past projects have included
“It can all be simultaneous in different facets. People always tell me that
Rock the Vote, Japan Relief, Keep A Breast and Arctic Wild. “Usually
I don’t need to do illegal street art. They say I have a huge following and
when people do stuff for charity, they feel like they’ve been successful
my art shows will do just fine. But I still enjoy it. I still get a rush. It’s
and they ought to give something back or maybe they’re guilted into it,”
the most liberating thing that I can do. It’s also a way to maintain the
explains Fairey, “but a lot of the things I care about and want to make art
rebellious cultures that created me – skateboarding, street art, punk rock
about, already fit seamlessly with charities I want to work with. So, it’s
and angry hip hop. The underdog getting somewhere against the odds is
an absolutely symbiotic situation.”
always going to inspire me.”
Action Eero: Nitro, Lifestyle torstein: Sven Schlager, Lifestyle Eero: Christian Brecheis, Lifestyle Silje: Cyril MĂźller
ar e w t e e | Str f r u S | | Skate
op for h S 1 # Â´S E Europ rEEtwEar t S & S t r BoardSpo
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A g a i n s t a b a c k d r o p o f u r b a n d e c ay , f o u n d at i o n s k at e s p o t s a r e b r e at h i n g n e w l i f e i n t o A m e r i c a â&#x20AC;&#x2122; s f o r g o t t e n c o r n e r s . Text & Photography Mike Belleme
ll across the United States crumbling
good not to spend a lot of money on them if you can help
buildings reflect a crumbling economy,
it,” says Rob Sebrell, a skate shop owner who has been
but leave it to skaters to find opportunity
spending most of his days off working on a foundation
where others have failed. In hundreds of
in Asheville, North Carolina. Materials for Asheville’s
American cities, cement foundations where
foundation have mostly been gathered on site, where
buildings once stood or were due to be
there is an abundance of cinder blocks, lumber, plywood
built are becoming the base for mini skate Meccas. These
and scraps of metal. It’s always a learning process as
spaces, forgotten by the rest of the world, offer both the raw
young kids work alongside seasoned skate vets, some
grittiness of street skating and the hassle-free aspects that
with extensive building expertise and others who have
we love about skateparks. While the lawless nature of these
never swung a hammer.
spots makes them attractive to freedom-chasing skaters,
Sometimes the collaborative energy extends beyond
it’s also the very thing that leaves them vulnerable. If you
the skaters and into the communities where the spots
think having a huge, wide-open, smooth concrete space
reside. In Greenville, South Carolina, Allen Glenn
where you and all of your friends can build ramps and
spearheaded the building of a foundation at the site
ledges, have cookouts and not be bothered by anyone is too
of a demolished textile mill in one of the city’s poorest
good to be true then, well, you’re probably right.
neighbourhoods. The crime-ridden location was spe-
The coolest part about watching the development of
cifically chosen because “no one gives a shit about this
a foundation spot is the pooling of resources, knowledge
area to begin with”, as Allen puts it. He started bringing
and energy. “The spots are temporary by nature, so it’s
completes that he put together at the skate shop from
partying – which actually attract attention from the law or land owners, as opposed to the skating itself. After dedicating years to a spot, it tends to take extreme measures to shut it down. The foundation in Greenville sat untouched for two years, with a fence surrounding it plastered with huge ‘No Trespassing’ signs until Allen finally said, “We are sick of having nowhere to skate so fuck ’em.” With that, he started going around the fence and skating again. So far, the police have come by a few times, but they think the whole thing is ridiculous, so they just tell everyone to get out. When I went to the spot with Allen and friend Mic Swett, we were approached by owners of adjacent businesses. Far from being upset, they were actually happy to see people skating there again and mentioned plans to try to make it a public skatepark. It could be a viable possibility. Other cities such as Atlanta, Georgia, have turned their foundation spots into public skateparks after they were condemned by the city. After they walked away, though, Mic confided: “I just want it to stay the way it is, with the fence and everything.” Maybe it’s the sense of pride or ownership that comes from being a part of every step of the process: finding the right slab of concrete, visualising its potential, cleaning it up and building from scratch. The imperfections of the spot and obstacles are all part of the fun and even the illicit nature of the spots seem part of the allure. As Rob explains: “It has and always will be about freedom, and if discarded parts and offering them to neighbourhood kids
we can’t ride down the street we will find and build places
who stopped by to pour concrete or shovel rubble. “The
where we can do what we want.”
entire community was excited to have a positive outlet so close to their homes, so the best part for me was to see those same kids that I gave a complete to, using it and having fun,” says Allen. Greenville’s foundation has since faced the same inevitable fate that almost all foundation spots do. Once the spot got really good, word spread and people started coming from all over. The influx of traffic to the neighbourhood was noticed and the result was that the city of Greenville purchased the plot of land in order to fence it off, threatening to incarcerate anyone caught on site. One might think that cities would welcome a place that kept the skaters hidden away and off the streets, but this story is becoming increasingly common. Countless foundation spots in Greenville, Asheville and other cities across the country, have been thwarted in one way or another by city officials or property owners. Sometimes, passers-by steal valuable materials like metal to sell to junkyards; other times, vandals come through and just break everything for fun. “We have had everything we built smashed to pieces and we rebuilt it again,” says Rob, who tries to keep attention away from the spot by encouraging kids to be respectful of the space and clean up trash. “Who knows how long it will last.” Lately, it’s become a popular hangout for high-schoolers looking for a place to get drunk, do drugs and fight, attracting more and more taggers and lurkers of all kinds. Often, it’s the things that come along with a skate spot, like graffiti and
Heavens Above 52 HUCK
Remember Jim Rippey? The pioneering pro whose daredevil antics and silky smooth style pushed nineties snowboarding o n t o a p r o g r e s s i v e p l at e a u ? Well, he’s still around. O n ly n o w h e ’ s a fa m i ly m a n who’s all about faith.
Text Cyrus Shahrad P h o t o g r a p h y AR I E L Z A M B E L I C H
xchanging YouTube clips of classic video sections by the legendary snowboarders that inspired us as kids is a regular hobby for myself and my close friend Spencer. It’s no surprise, then, to wake to an email with the subject heading ‘Jim Rippey’. Less expected is its content: a cryptic single line from Spencer (‘Please tell me this is a joke’), and a link to the website for Jim’s new role as pastor of Grace Church in Reno, Nevada. The site boasts a photo of a suited Jim smiling broadly in front of a highway billboard reading ‘Jesus: I Trust In You’, and links to various video blogs (‘Commitment’, ‘Conflict Resolution’, ‘Will We Go To Hell?’) in which he preaches effusively to the camera, a votive candle flickering on the table beside him. I know straight away that I have to speak to him. It seems a matter of urgency to understand Rippey’s path from chairlift to church, to learn how God has come to define the life of someone who once displayed such a flippant attitude towards death. I should state at the outset that, despite being an atheist, I’m not looking to pick Jim’s beliefs apart; instead I’m driven by a fascination with how I’d chosen to remember one of my idols – suspended ageless at the apex of his infamous Alaskan backflip – while out in the real world his life was taking twists and turns that I couldn’t begin to imagine. Jim’s response to my introductory email is enthusiastic, and a few days later I find myself dialling his number. It dawns on me that I know next to nothing about his upbringing, so the first task is to establish a little background, something Rippey – as affable on the phone as he is on film – is happy to provide. Jim’s parents divorced when he was young, after which he was raised by his schoolteacher father in the northern California mill town of Quincy, an hour and a half from Lake Tahoe. One of his dad’s extracurricular roles was to bus kids to and from the nearby resort of Johnsville every Saturday. Jim learned to love skiing from an early age, but his real hunger was for football, and following school he went to college to pursue a career as a punter. He dropped out after learning that he couldn’t specialise in his chosen position, a fact he knew would limit his ability to break into the NFL. Returning to Quincy, he took on a soul-sapping job at Roundtable Pizza, until a close friend – the only snowboarder in town – suggested they pair up on a season trip to Tahoe. Jim was nineteen years old, and had still never stepped on a snowboard.
This surprises me. In a sport where most kids now seem to be stomping switch backside nines before their voices have broken, the idea of a rider strapping on a board for the first time postpuberty, before going on to have a fifteen-year career, seems the stuff of fantasy. But it’s as much a
“ R i g h t at t h at m o m e n t, I got nailed by the H o ly S p i r i t. I f e lt m y h e a rt p h y s i c a l l y swell up with a joy a n d a c o n t e n t m e n t t h at I’d never experienced before, and I just s t a rt e d c r y i n g . ”
reflection of how rapidly the sport
legendary backflip off a forty-foot cliff in Juno, Alaska, stomped second attempt on a 154. As a teenager, true to Rippey’s theory, these were moments of pure magic that stayed with me for years; as I speak to him on the phone, it becomes clear that they were also desperate attempts to cling on to the tail end of a career.
was evolving around those early
“Most pro snowboarders have
pioneers as it is a testament to
a short shelf life – their sponsors
Jim’s unusual gift, managing as he did to infuse an easy, athletic grace
tire of them pretty quickly, and they’re usually nudged out by the next
into even the burliest tricks at a time when most were simply hanging
talented kid after four or five years. The reason I had a longer career
on for dear life.
than most was because I was willing to go out and risk my life for these
“A lot of the pros would wave their arms in the air, get a late grab
cutting-edge shots. It was a scary way to make a living, but I knew that
in, make it look like they almost died and barely pulled it off,” says
if I came up with the same video parts year after year, Burton would
Jim, “and that’s what they believed generated the excitement. But I
get bored of me and drop me from the team. It sounds cut throat, but
thought, ‘No, that’s not how you want it to look. You want it to look
that’s the way it was.”
like you’re floating through the air, get the grab in early and just hold
It was around the turn of the millennium that Jim – then thirty
it.’ Same with making turns: I wanted to make surf-style turns, not
years old, and with no religious upbringing to speak of – began to
slashing and stopping, but drawing things out, arcing down the face
see what he calls “God’s imprint on everything”. It was a feeling that
and kicking up fans of snow. If you look at my first video parts, I was
culminated in Valdez, Alaska, with Jim standing on top of a mountain
just trying to get crazy air like everyone else, but after a couple of years
and being flooded with such an unexpected and overwhelming sense
I realised that I wanted it to look effortless as well as extreme.”
of the divine that he found himself praying. On his return home,
Jim Rippey’s video parts helped him become one of snowboarding’s
Jim began reading the Bible, and contacted his Burton teammate
first celebrities. A consummate professional – he was one of the most
Dave Downing – himself a Christian – to ask the name of a good local
recognisable faces of the Burton dream team in the mid nineties – Jim
church. A few days later Jim walked through the doors of Sierra Bible,
quickly realised that audiences seldom remembered more than two
unaware that he was about to have a moment of clarity intense enough
or three of the most insane tricks from a single thirty-minute movie.
to put his countless near-death experiences in the shade.
Those were the shots to get, and it was this understanding that drove
“The preacher began reading the words of Jesus from the New
Jim to push the envelope in pursuit of his most memorable moments
Testament – and I’d never read the New Testament at this point, I
on film, including his unprecedented snowmobile flip, his base jump
was still working my way through the Old – but I knew every word as
off a bridge from the roof of a moving bus, and – most famously – his
though I’d read it a thousand times. I remember closing my eyes and
saying: God, you must be real, because I’ve never read this, but I know
I only rode for three days. These days I’m more focused on trying to
it word for word as though it’s tattooed on my heart. And right at that
share the gospel with as many people as possible, to be here for them
moment I got nailed by the Holy Spirit. I felt my heart physically swell
and try to help them through life, because life is pretty hard.”
up with a joy and a contentment that I’d never experienced before, and I just started crying.”
I ask Jim if he’s still in touch with the dons of yesteryear – I’ve long entertained images of the former Fall Line Films crew getting together
Jim left the church that day born again, though at the time he
for beers and barbecues, gracefully greying and laughing as they
didn’t know what the phrase meant. All he knew was that God’s word
recall the madcap adventures that accompanied those trips. Jim tells
had become the most important thing in his life, and he began to
me that they exchange occasional messages on Facebook, but that’s
spend more and more time in Bible study groups to better understand
about it; he’s always been a loner, he says, and now more than ever
his calling. Three years later, with a new team manager and a raft of
his focus is on family – his wife of ten years, Jennifer, and three-year-
money-saving measures in place at Burton, Jim was finally dropped
old son, Jobe. Finally, I ask if he ever felt persecuted for his beliefs
from the team. Plunged into a state of financial uncertainty, he spent
within the snowboard community. There’s a momentary pause before
two years trying and failing to reignite his college hopes of a football
he answers in that same upbeat, infectiously enthusiastic voice.
career before deciding that God wanted him to be a preacher. He took
“I’ve posed that question myself – I often wondered if my faith was
a course at the Horizon School of Evangelism in San Diego before
the reason Burton finally let me go. But I’ve never been one to worry
joining Grace Church to become a pastor three years ago. And he’s
too much about that sort of thing. Jesus said, ‘Hey, I was persecuted,
never been happier.
and if you choose to follow me then you’re going to be persecuted too.’
“When you look at mankind as a whole, most people worship
I don’t think I’ve made a lot of enemies, but I’m sure there are people
something. Surfers want to spend all their time in the water;
out there thinking, ‘Rippey’s lost his mind, he’s this born-again Jesus
snowboarders want to be constantly in the mountains. But for me it’s
freak who tells people that the only way to heaven is through Jesus
about worshiping the creator now, rather than the creation – I had a
Christ!’ And that’s fine by me. I’m just going to keep loving on them,
Squaw Valley pass last year, and we had record amounts of snow, but
and trying to help them as best I can. The rest is up to them.”
Unfiltered thoughts on a Chilean surf trip, direct from Thomas Campbell’s free-flowing mind.
Occasionally life turns in some amazing ways,,,and if at all possible,,,you have got to hold on and make that turn with it,,,,, some months back,,,i was in Southern California,,,and got a chance to go slide a few waves with Ryan Burch and Devon Howard at one of the finely groomed waves in Cardiff. ,,,,Mid session,,,i was asking Burch about what he had coming up,,,‘oh,,,this and that,,,and maybe i’m going to Chile with Rob Machado in a month’ ,,,Aaaahhhh ,,what did you say?, and with some heeing and hahing,,and seeing if it could work,i narrowly slid into the fold of this trip as a second still camera man,,which i couldn’t afford time or money wise but had to make happen. With some last minute shuffling of the deck Dane Reynolds and Craig Anderson wanted to go as well,,,and a confirmed Joel Tudor,,who did not make the leap at the last moment,,,however,it really was a crazy trip and i am deeply thankful i got to go,,,BIG TIME,,,,First off,,all i can say about Chile,,is that it is a beautiful,tranquil,most unpopulated area ,,,and the people really are a reflection of the environment. Kind,mellow,living a very high quality of life it seems.I have travelled a lot about this spinning blue green globe,and i have to say it was one of the most relaxed,enjoyable places i have visited,,,plus the 2 to 3 hundred yard sand bottom left hand point breaks aren't bad either.I am writing this scribble from a personal point of view because that is exactly what HUCK asked of me,,,Please give us a personal description of the 4 wave sliders on your trip to Chile, and some doodles and photos ,to express their personal situation and sliding prowess ,,,,what you have before you,,is I hope just that,,,if you can,enjoy.
age 23: Craig is a lot of things,,,South African living in Australia ,(Newcastle),,since his mid teens ,,,cool ,understated,mellow funny dude,another hair bandit,,i always see the hair attributes clearly,,because i wish i had hairfarmer potential,,,i don’t....anyway,,this was a cool trip to have Craig on,,,because Craig seems to be in or from the lineage of stylish surfers like Rob Machado,,and it was really awesome to see Rob and Craig going wave for wave ,,,,,Craig looks so good on a wave when he is trimming straight down the line or whatever,,,i always think of his style as being ,,,the modern version of a conglomeration of Rob and Gerry Lopez with a healthy portion of surfing above the lippers thrown in,, to freak or stoke us all out.,,,,oooh,,,and occasionally Craig in his infinite personal style,,,,might make me see him aesthetically as a cross between Prince (that funky little midget) and an early seventies Michael Peterson ,,maybe i’m trippin,,,but what else am i supposed to do .Craigo is the
shit.This trip turned out to be a filming adventure for an untitled movie centered around Craig that Dane's Marine Layer Productions is producing. I have been on a few trips with Craig and i really don’t think how groovy Craig’s surfing really is, has been captured yet,,.,usually you just see him cut up tight in an edit,flicking airs,doing crazy fin-free turns and some tubeage,,,but i shit you not,,,there is a lot in between and yes,,,i am about as excited as you to see what our favourite style bandit comes up with.
AGE 22: Rider of foam blocks,logs,alaias,and a
surfboards,,or maybe alright ones ,,yeah,,,Ryan is a super stoked kid,,,has been shaping his own crafts for 3 years,,is from Cardiff California and has slipped heavily into the Carl Ekstrom asymmetrical stream and is currently busy getting lost in his own tributary ,,,if you really
spend more than 3 minutes really thinking about it,,,you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really want the same rail line or contours on the heel side of your surfboard, that you want on your toe side,,it begs for something different,,,,and Ry guy is exploring this idea thoroughly,,,to the extent that he will shape foot dents into the deck of his boards.And lastly he may be leading the re-charge in the fashion revolution of the neck warmer.Which has the potential to go over seriously big in the United Kingdom.go Ryan GO.
AGE 38: Aka The Hair Bandit,Chobba Lobba, Chotski --he’s been around a long time,,so he’s got a lot of nicknames,,,but fucking seriously,,he is surfing better than ever it seems,,what is up with Kelly and Rob,,,,just getting
makes normal declining humans,,, clinically depressed,,,,but fun to watch at the same
time,,,, like i said,,,he was just shredding,,,and forever,,,he might of nabbed the MVP of our trip to Childo Baggins.Also Chobby is not affraid to ride or come up with offbeat surf board ideas,,,he was riding this board,,he called it ‘the board that ate itself ’,,,,it was maybe 4'3'' X 17 inches wide,,looked like an alaia template,and an inch and a half thick,,twin fin,,,but it had a little template of a normal square tail shortboard shaped and raised a quarter of an inch out of the bottom contour of the board .Weird stuff,weird guy,,,no just kidding,,,that nimble little Bob Marley looking leprechaun was shredding it and making one person slightly older than him feel,,,uuummmm, like a mummy.
AGE 26: Well,,what can you say that hasn’t already been said,,,well,,,,probably actually a lot ,,,,Dane is my favourite short-board-riding type surfer,,and probably almost ever one else’s,and for real reason’s,,,like he almost absolutely doesn’t do any manouvres to the fullness of his potential,,,his approach is fucking nuts.And he is a cool kid ,that has started to steer surfing off the big generic commercial freeway of doom,,,,with ideas on basic hyper radical approach ,being creative in rad simple ways on the blogosphere, inspiring a generation of young surfers to do rad crappy art and have fun doing it,,coming up with offbeat ideas of surf craft designs and fricken’
going banana’s on said devices.Dane had a board he shaped called the ‘Sperm Whale’ he had with him on this trip,,,id seen him surf it a bit on his blog,,,and it looked pretty dodgy,,,but he says it’s like a seriously ugly baby the parents think is beautiful,,and he liked it and had fun on it,,,,but anyhow,,,in Chile he rode the whale on the backside and he was doing some really cool extreme highlines positioned in the front third of the board,,kind of upside down under the lip,,,i missed the shot, but enjoyed the moment.I supposed life is about learning and experiencing new things,and seizing the moment or the day (carpe diem),,Dane is for sure doing that stuff This story is unedited to include all original commas and typos, direct from Thomas Campbell’s emails.
It’s been two years since Kevin Pearce suffered a serious brain injury while training for the Olympic halfpipe. He’s undergone most types of therapy and all manner of surgeries. Now, with a balanced outlook on life, he’s ready to think about the next step.
As I park my car
If it sounds like Kevin is complaining, it couldn’t be further
Pearce’s house in Carlsbad, California, I see a work in progress. The
from the truth. In person, he oozes positivity. And while anyone
entire house and surrounding landscape is under construction, but
dealt the same card would be forgiven for feeling angry, Kevin
you can see that it’s slowly coming together and that the completed
doesn’t seem to have a bitter bone in his body. If anything he
project will be impressive yet humble. The same could be said for
seems consumed by gratitude, for the life he led both before and
Kevin himself. Having suffered a much-publicised traumatic brain
after that fateful day. “I know that I’m doing well and that I’m
injury just before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Kevin
very lucky,” he says. “I’ve been able to take all the positives and
Pearce is still very much a work in progress.
not look at the negatives. And I think that’s a huge part of why
Two years ago, Kevin was the only snowboarder touted to stand
I’ve got so far, because when I go to rehab I don’t sit there with
a real chance of taking the crown from Shaun White in the Olympic
the attitude of, ‘Oh, this sucks. I don’t want to do this therapy.’ I
halfpipe. But on New Year’s Eve 2009, his incredible career hit a
think a lot of kids feel very sorry for themselves, and I took the
dramatic bump when he slammed the right side of his head into
other angle… I think it says a lot about how I was raised and how
the icy lip of a halfpipe while practising a double cork, a trick he
my parents brought me up that I look at it like this.”
knew he needed to nail in order to shoot for gold at the upcoming
Growing up in Vermont as one of four brothers, Kevin and
Games. The ensuing drama involved Kevin being airlifted to the
his family are a tight-knit crew. His older brother David has
University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City where he spent
Down syndrome, but in what appears to be a Pearce family trait,
several days in a medically induced coma. It took a full month
he refuses to let that fact define his life and has instead risen to
before he was stable enough to be transferred to Denver’s Craig
become a Special Olympics ski champ. That determination was
Hospital for a further three months of intense rehabilitation, up
evident in the way the Pearce family helped Kevin on his road
to eight hours a day. It wasn’t known at first whether Kevin would
to recovery. Kevin becomes emotional when he talks about how
survive, or what condition he would be in if he did, but like a true
older brother Adam stayed by his side almost round-the-clock for
champion, he smashed the odds and made a remarkable recovery.
the first three months. With Adam as his physical therapy buddy,
To see Kevin today, you would be forgiven for thinking that he
Kevin rose to the familiar old challenge of competing against his
is 100 per cent back to normal. At twenty-four, he’s fit and strong,
brother, pushing himself harder than he would have done alone.
talks freely and looks totally like the old Kevin – especially without
Alongside family, a global network of people – from sponsors
the addition of the thick-lensed prescription glasses he’s had to
and close friends to complete strangers – united to help him on
wear since the accident (just last week, Kevin underwent surgery
his path to recovery. The Facebook page run by Adam in the
to repair the vertical and horizontal misalignment of his eye,
aftermath of the accident, called ‘Well Wishes to our Friend
meaning the specs are no longer a fixed appendage). But serious
Kevin Pearce’, boasts 52,000 members to date. “The support
brain injuries are far more complex than they first appear.
I got is hard to explain,” he says. “I didn’t realise that so many
“I think it’s cool how everyone talks about how well I’m doing, but no one ever talks about how badly I’m doing,” explains Kevin,
people would be there. It was pretty special. The support is what has touched me and helped me the most.”
looking perfectly at ease out on his new deck. “It’s good to be able
Kevin walks into the kitchen to pick up a card he received
to talk about that. There are still so many things that I’m doing
last week on his birthday. It’s from a fan who finds him
badly at, but what I’ve learned is that those things are so invisible;
inspirational. “It’s so touching to get that from somebody,” he
whether it’s my memory or my balance, they’re so small and so
says, visibly overwhelmed. “These cards came every single day in
hard to see, but for me they’re so big and so hard – so hard because
that hospital. What it has done for me is amazing; there’s so
of how they’ve taken such a toll on me. I have been doing this for
two years, and it’s like this brain injury never ends. It’s never going
And that love has been unwavering. In an industry that isn’t
to go away; I’m always going to be brain injured. I’ve come to accept
afraid to replace underperformers with ‘the next big thing’, nearly
that, but it’s hard to know I will always be healing for the rest of my
all of Kevin’s sponsors have continued to support him. It says a lot
life, and a weird thought that things will always be different now.”
for the athlete he was, and the person he still is – or, as Kevin puts
Te x t Z o e O k s a n e n Photography Embry Rucker
it, “It says a lot about these companies that they stood by me with
because I kind of do think it might happen. If it does, it means
no idea of what was coming next!” AMP just renewed his contract
the risk level will just be so high and it will be like what happened
for three years, and last year Burton re-signed him for a further
to me… That is not what I want to see. The style and essence of
two. But it’s clear that at some point Kevin is going to have some
snowboarding is still there in the halfpipe, but if we go much
difficult questions to answer about his future. Another head injury is out of the question. “If I hit my head
further, I do think we will start to lose it.” Fortunately for Kevin, his love for snowboarding is deeply
again, it’s game over,” explains Kevin, adding that leaving the
entrenched in the mountains – a place doctors say he can return
snowboard world entirely is not really an option either. “I never
to soon. “I get most stoked on powder,” he says. “The [Absinthe]
thought I would have to think about this at this age, I thought I
movie Twel2ve stokes me out whenever I watch it, as every shot is
would be snowboarding until I was in my thirties. [...] Now, pretty
in so much snow. That’s what makes me the most excited about
much what it comes down to is that I have to figure out a new
getting back into snowboarding.”
life… I have no idea what to do. It’s so hard because all I know is snowboarding, and I know it so well.”
When we talk about his long-term memory loss, Kevin’s explanation is characteristically balanced. “The important stuff I
Not one to sit and mope, Kevin has been out on the slopes
remember without a problem,” he says. “The other stuff is gone.”
emceeing for contests and maintaining a presence within the
It seems symbolic of his general outlook on life; he focuses on the
world of professional snowboarding. “It’s not my favourite thing,”
things that matter, and refuses to waste time on those that don’t.
he admits, “but it helps me stay involved and gives me a reason
But he’s not underplaying how much his life has changed.
to go to the contests.” Just yesterday, Kevin had to watch as his
“My life is 360 degrees different; it is the exact opposite of what it
best friends, including roommate Jack Mitrani, packed up their
was,” he notes. He has a friend, Haylee, who lives with him full-time
snowboard bags to head over to Mammoth Mountain for opening
and helps out with anything he needs so as to reduce any stress that
day while he stayed home. Although doctors have said he can
could lead to seizures in his shoulder, his body’s way of telling him
get back on a board for mellow powder riding at some point this
that he’s doing too much. When I arrive, I sense that she is discreetly
“I’m always going to be brain injured. I’ve come to accept that, but it’s hard to know I will always be healing for the rest of my life, and a weird thought that things will always be different now.”
winter, he isn’t quite there yet. And he’s okay with that – for now.
checking that Kevin will be okay while she nips out to the store.
“It’s not going to help me in any way to be sad and depressed,” he
Between physical therapy, cognitive therapy, speech therapy (which
explains. “I’ve totally come round to the fact that it is what it is, and
he has now finished), eye therapy and an important medication
what has happened, happened,” he says. “I’m lucky that I have been
schedule, Kevin doesn’t have time to slack off. “You’ve really got to
able to stay positive. I have been able to take all the good things that
take yourself seriously, because it’s such a serious thing,” he explains.
I have been so lucky to have, whether it’s being able to see right now,
“I don’t screw with it. I’ve chosen to do things the right way.”
or being able to walk or talk. It could be so much worse.”
Doing things the right way means altering the usual social
When Kevin’s injury hit headlines, the mainstream media
patterns a typical guy in his mid-twenties may enjoy. Kevin has
sprung into action with stories that claimed snowboarding had
had no more than two sips of alcohol since his injury, a fact that
gone one step too far – that the professional circuit had entered
doesn’t seem to bother him in the least. But that’s not to say his life
a place of no return, where riding with style and grace was being
is frustration free. “Your brain doesn’t tell you that it’s injured,” he
supplanted by the need to spin and huck your ass off. For months,
explains. “Physically, my balance is my biggest issue. It’s so hard
Kevin was silently at the centre of the storm, but now he feels
because, say with surfing, I used to be able to rip down the line,
he can have his say. “I feel like halfpipe riding is getting close to
and now I go out there and feel so fine, like I should just be able to
the limit,” he explains, “but I would never begin to say that the
do it without any issue. Then I go out and can barely catch a wave
direction it’s going is not good, just because of how excited I am
because of my balance and vision. All the things it takes to surf are
about all these new tricks. I feel like everyone understands that
all gone for me now.”
getting injured like I did is a possibility and it could be way worse – and if they don’t, they are crazy.
And frustration stems from other sources, too. “When I tell some people that my memory is pretty bad, they’re like, ‘Yeah, I
“It’s so hard for me to imagine us getting past where we are at
have such a bad memory, too!’” laughs Kevin, clearly too laid-back
now, but it’s impossible to know,” he continues. “Are kids going to
to let such comments rile him. “People always come up to me and
start doing triple corks in the halfpipe? It’s such a hard question
think they know, but no one will ever really understand.”
â&#x20AC;&#x153;The important stuff I remember without a problem. The other stuff is gone.â&#x20AC;?
When Kevin got injured, he was at the pinnacle of his career.
This December, he is heading to Washington D.C. to receive the
He had beaten Shaun White at the 2008 Burton European
National Rehabilitation Hospital’s Victory Award, an honour
Open halfpipe contest, was the first athlete to compete in three
bestowed on those who show exceptional courage in the face of
events in one day at the Winter X Games and had recently been
physical adversity. “Tomorrow, Billy Anderson [from Volcom] is
crowned TTR World Champion. Then came the accident and
taking me up to LA to get fitted for a Gucci tux for this award,” he
soon Kevin Pearce became a name uttered by primetime news
tells me, laughing. “I don’t even know what a Gucci tuxedo is – it’s
channels, talk shows and mainstream magazines. In short, he
going to be awesome!”
became more famous after his accident than he was before. When
At this point Kevin’s phone beeps a reminder alarm. It’s time
I ask him whether this bugs him – the fact that he may possibly
for his eye drops, an important measure to prevent any post-
become better known for his injury than for his achievements in
surgery infection. As I help him pop them in, he points out that
snowboarding – he looks at me bemused; it’s clear he doesn’t allow
if it weren’t for his phone, he would never remember to take his
space in his healing brain for such banal thoughts. After some
medication, another invisible indicator of just how much work he
thoughtful consideration, he replies: “No, I don’t think I have
still needs to put in.
ever thought about it like that. Being a professional snowboarder
When we are nearing the end of our interview, Kevin starts to
doesn’t help anybody but yourself. I feel like making a change in
yawn a lot. He explains that it’s a side effect of his medication, a
the world is something I can do now, with all the people who have
sign of his “brain needing more oxygen”. The yawn turns into a
been affected and know about me because of this.”
small sigh when I ask him what’s next; where does he see himself
And that ball is already rolling. Kevin is in the early stages of
in the near future? It seems the toughest question of them all, and
working on a documentary about his life with the producer of
the only one that really stops him in his tracks. “I’ve got to find out
Oscar-nominated movie Wasteland. His hope is that the film will
what is next. Really, what is next..?”
carry with it a purpose, something that will help people in some
On that note, Kevin wanders off to talk with the contractor
way. “Lots of people tell me that this must have happened for a
working on his house (a property, incidentally, he bought just
reason, that I have a purpose in life now,” he says. “I’m trying to
before his injury and had no recollection of after the accident).
work out what my purpose is.”
I am left with little doubt that Kevin Pearce – world-class
Even if Kevin hasn’t worked that bit out quite yet, he’s definitely received recognition for what he has achieved so far.
snowboarder, indomitable fighter – will have no trouble working out what comes next
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STRONG SEX REFERENCES & LANGUAGE, ONCE VERY STRONG, & MODERATE SEX 15 CONTAINS
S t r a i g h t Ta l k Chatting geometry with Evan Hecox, the Mission School graduate who sees abstract shapes in urban space. Te x t A n d r e a K u r l a n d Portrait Andrew Paynter
Evan Hecox likes to keep things straight.
“I’ve always tried to reduce the landscape
When we meet on a rainy afternoon in east
into abstract things,” says Evan, meticulously
London before the private view of Borough
lining up his next shot. “Like, some of these
& Lane – a show inspired by London’s post-
shapes are just the suggestion of a window.
industrial landscape – the Colorado-based
With these pieces, I took it to another level by
artist is in a characteristically matter-of-
adding in geometric forms that have nothing
fact mood. He’s also drenched. Stepping
to do with anything real.”
inside the gallery, he tips off his hat, brushes
This perfectly simplified urban world,
raindrops off his coat, then methodically sets
where “really organic line work contrasts with
up a camera in the centre of the room. Our
geometric shapes”, has become the Hecox
conversation, for the next forty-five minutes
staple. Since landing in San Francisco in the
or so, becomes something of an orchestrated
mid-nineties – a time and place synonymous
dance; every few minutes we swivel around,
with Mission School artists like Barry McGee
turning the tripod inch by inch, so that he can
– Evan has taken everyday city scenes, from
snap his work from every angle. Geometry, it
Mexican taco shacks to suburban LA, and
seems, is a recurring theme.
found something vibrant in the mundane.
“Coming from Colorado, it was always
into the piece with line work and bold blocks of
collectors can’t afford a 10,000 dollar piece.
fascinating to me, being in a city so busy and
colour. It’s an aesthetic that skateboarding has
But you can’t have aspirations without actually
dense,” explains Evan, who became ensconced
lapped up. Since 1997, Evan has been Chocolate
doing it; you can’t just talk about it.”
in the art scene ballooning around The
Skateboards’ go-to guy, lending his tonal style
That night, Evan’s show attracts a mixed
Luggage Store, a gallery that showed the likes
to over 300 graphics. “In high-school, I would
crowd: there are beer-swilling drifters with
of Chris Johanson and Margaret Kilgallen. “I
read Thrasher cover to cover and draw pretend
skateboards hooked under arms, and snappily
had this fishing stool and I would go sit and
skateboard graphics for nobody in particular.
dressed designer-types whose pockets are
sketch architectural things, but people would
Now, I do my best to stay a little bit naive to
brimming with thirty-something cash. At the
always bother me. So, I found this old Polaroid
skateboarding trends, so that I can produce
centre is the unassuming figure of a man – neat
camera, and started taking black and white
work that doesn’t look like everything else.”
shirt, short hair – taking in the sheer scale of it
shots around San Francisco.”
With a New York show planned for May –
all. “London is a huge, vast, old place; you have
Working from photographs – in a pristine
“an opportunity to produce some larger, more
to live here your whole life to fully comprehend
studio built onto his Denver home – Evan breaks
ambitious pieces” – and a public wall to paint in
it,” says Evan. “But hopefully, from an outsider’s
down the image into its basic components,
Sydney, Evan’s ready to up-size the scale of his
point of view, I see little things filtered through
amplifies the shapes that catch his eye, strips
work, “regardless of whether they sell or not”.
my own perspective. It’s always interesting to
away the rest, and then methodically works
As he explains: “It’s not easy, when my basic
see someone else’s take on a place.”
Detroit has been torn a pa r t b y r e c e s s i o n , b u t an extraordinary group of f e m a l e e m c e e s a r e p u ll i n g together in a city where the engine has died. Text Rob Boffard Photography L i z + M a x H a Ar a l a H a m i l t o n
Paula Smiley had to make a
difficult decision. She was nearing thirty and had lived in Detroit her whole life. She grew up on the city’s east side, among the wide pavements of Lenox Street, just off the dual carriageway Chandler Park Drive. And she’d had enough. She was tired of struggling. Perhaps, she thought, it was time to move on and look for opportunities elsewhere. But Paula isn’t just another disillusioned Detroiter upping sticks in the wake of the worst recession in living memory. She’s a rapper named Miz Korona, and for years she’s repped the D hard. In 2002, she appeared in the film 8 Mile, rapping alongside Eminem and Xzibit at the steel plant lunch truck. Her huge, rumbling voice – behind massive tunes like ‘Playground’ – is one of the most recognised and valued in the city. As the co-founder of The Foundation, one of the country’s foremost nights for women in hip hop, the city is in her blood. And yet, she’s still had to hustle for every fan and every pay cheque. Finally last year, she grew tired of it all. “I felt like it was a dead-end road,” she sighs. “There weren’t any outlets for my career to prosper the way I think it can.” In the end, however, Paula decided to stay; true Detroiters never quit. What held her here is the very thing she helped to build – a vibrant hip hop scene buoyed by artists who are dedicated to their craft. In Detroit, women in hip hop aren’t pushed to the side, or forced to be something they’re not. They can make their own rules. And in doing so, they’ve made one of the most unique hip hop homes in the world. Detroit knows hard work. It’s a city built on the motor industry’s capitalist promises: from the day Henry Ford broke ground on his Highland Park factory in 1899, its destiny was tied to how fast those four wheels could go. By 1930, the city’s population had swollen from 265,000 to around 1.5 million, with immigrants flocking from the South in search of jobs. And Detroit knows struggle, too: in 1932, workers clashed with police over unemployment and slashed salaries, in what came to be known as the
Ford Hunger March. The construction of the freeways in the fifties saw a migration of white workers to the suburbs, setting up a city which today is eighty-five per cent black. Berry Gordy formed Motown, then abandoned Detroit for the bright lights of Los Angeles. In the nineties, casino construction downtown brought jobs and development. Deirdre Smith, who raps under the name D.S. Sense, says it was a great time to grow up in Detroit: “There were still great public schools, storefronts that were family owned, block clubs, block parties and neighbourhoods filled with love. I always felt secure in Detroit, even as I witnessed a decline.” It was during this boom time that Detroit hip hop really got off the ground. From Insane Clown Posse to Eminem, Slum Village to J Dilla, the city began to make a name for itself. The famed Hip Hop Shop on 7 Mile Road became a flashpoint for the exploding scene (and no matter what filmmakers thought, 7 Mile is where everything went down). It was here that Eminem won the Rap Olympics battle that earned him a trip to LA, where he first met Dr Dre. Other spots sprung up, too, as Korona recalls: “The Lush Lounge was really, really huge for the hip hop community, and St Andrews in downtown Detroit. You had a lot of people coming from all over Michigan and bringing money in. [...] The Detroit hip hop community was prosperous.” As the years went by, new artists continued to emerge, including Guilty Simpson, Obie Trice, Royce Da 5’9” and more recently Black Milk. Detroit was rising with an unmistakeable sound: a mishmash of old Motown samples, juddering bass lines, heavy drums and slick lyrics. A sound that, like the city it came from, seemed to be forged of fire and steel.
“It reminds me of the music that came out of the Civil R i g h t s e r a . Yo u s e e a va r i e t y o f i s s u e s b e i n g a dd r e s s e d . ”
But then Detroit fell – and this time, it fell harder than ever before. In 2009, in the wake of America’s subprime mortgage crisis, the city’s Big Three auto-makers – Ford, Chrysler and General Motors – ran into serious financial trouble, with the latter two filing for bankruptcy. Thousands of jobs were lost. In the last two years, the city has rocketed to the top of the nation’s jobless total (13.1 per cent of the city is unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Crime has soared. The mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, resigned and was later indicted for fraud and tax evasion. As pink slips multiplied and banks foreclosed on houses, thousands left town, leaving 30,000 vacant lots and abandoned homes across the city. Whole neighbourhoods gone, vanished, with entire properties on the market for fifty dollars, sometimes less. The citizens were too close to the auto industry, and when it went down, so did they. Even the Detroit Pistons – NBA champions in 2004 – dropped to the bottom of the league, as if in sympathy for their struggling city. And the music scene felt the sting, too. The Hip Hop Shop had closed long before, but soon it was joined by others, including the storied Lush Lounge. Detroit’s emcees began to get more love in other cities and countries than they did at home. Eminem, despite certain optimistic TV ads for Chrysler, is no longer a part of the city’s musical conversation. But in the midst of all this, something odd happened. Over the past few years, the number of women involved in hip hop has exploded. Nowhere – not New York, LA or Atlanta – can boast a group of female artists as diverse as that of Detroit.
03 72 HUCK
01 Miz Korona 02 Mahogany Jones 03 Mz Jonz
Invincible, an Israeli-born emcee (who taught herself English via hip
breaking down and going crazy, falling apart. We find another way.”
hop and has since become one of the city’s brightest talents), worked with
Detroit’s female rappers have carved out their own spot, but they’re
Korona and local luminary Piper Carter to establish The Foundation, a
also quick to point out that there are no great gender divides. Every artist
female-focused night held at the city’s 5E Gallery on Michigan Avenue.
speaks warmly of the “community” – emcees who have each other’s backs
Glennisha Morgan, a Detroit-born journalist, helped establish website
and will support one another, no matter what. It’s this – above anything
The Fembassy, dedicated to chronicling hip hop’s women. Out of these
else – that separates Detroit’s female emcees from those in other cities.
grew a vast body of emcees and deejays who have continued to support
Shayvonna Jones agrees. Under the moniker Mz Jonz, she’s one
each other: people like Mz Jonz, Insite The Riot, Mahogany Jones and
of the first names to crop up in any conversation about Detroit rap.
D.S. Sense. From Korona’s thumping ‘Playground’ to Invincible’s angry
She didn’t grow up in the city: a self-described ‘army brat’, she moved
‘Locusts’ (which rages against the property developers chasing out long-
around a lot with her military parents before settling in Detroit in her
time residents) to Insite’s soulful ‘Fly Away’, Detroit has found its voice.
teens. She’s testament to the way in which a city can become part of who
For people like Insite The Riot (born Allandra Bulger, who grew up on the city’s blue-collar north side), the pressure cooker of a broken city
you are. “In our city, we’re go-getters,” she says. “There’s a lot of talent here, and we all want to be a voice on the scene. We’re all stepping up.”
can fuel creativity. “I think [the problems] make the music richer,” she
But even with all this talent and hard work, there are still serious
says. “It reminds me of the music that came out of the Civil Rights era.
problems that need to be overcome. For starters, Detroit hip hop is
You see a variety of issues being addressed. You see a depth and richness
suffering from a chronic lack of audience. The homegrown fans have
to the music. I don’t want to say that there’s an aggression, but you often
largely left town, and those that remain aren’t exactly popping bottles
find that, and even if the message isn’t aggressive, the delivery often is.
in the club. “You used to see people coming in and actually spending
Those circumstances feed that.”
money,” says Korona. “Now, it’s more like artists have to be the audience
Answering the question of why great music comes out of trying
for each other. It’s hard for people to come out and spend ten dollars
circumstances is easy, but figuring out
why Detroit, of all places, has produced
and it’s hard to be able to get the
such a unique group of women is a
promotional word out. We have to take
little harder. Glennisha Morgan – who recently left to be closer to the New York magazines she regularly writes for – says that it’s largely due to people like
created a space where women could feel comfortable in what was traditionally a male-dominated environment: “If you have a place where you can go and get on the mic every single week, where you can go and be around a bunch of other artists, of course you’re going to grow. The Foundation is an example of a platform where Detroit women can go ahead and practise their craft and have a sounding board.”
“Even though it’s frustrating, there not being any jobs and the economy going d o w n , i t ’ s r e a ll y pushing people to do what they r e a ll y l o v e . ”
to the Internet. [...] It’s been happening slowly but surely for quite some time, but just over the past year, it’s really gotten worse.” And then there’s the deeper problem of how the city got into this mess in the first place. According to the emcees, there’s a sense that Detroit has been let down. No longer the proud industrial jewel of the nation, it’s been cast to the side; Barack Obama rose to power in 2008 on a message of hope, but it’s a promise that seemed to stop at the Michigan state line. Bailouts of banks and car companies have had little impact on ordinary citizens. The
Korona – who recently started a
system that sustained Detroit for so long
new job as a package supervisor to
– big money, blue-collar jobs and heavy industry – has also largely failed it.
supplement her rap income - suspects the answer lies in the city’s long history of struggles: “If people in, for
“I think people in Detroit feel forgotten,” says Insite. “People feel
example, LA go through hardships and lose their job, they lose it,”
that a blind eye has been turned to what is really going on here. I think
she says. “Like, ‘Oh my god, it’s the end of the world!’ But we’ve been
that the system definitely has some shortcomings, but I think those
through that. A thousand times! It’s nothing to us. We got people losing
shortcomings open the door for opportunists, which is why we have
their houses, living with family members. [...] We’ve been through so
some of the situations we do.”
much that there’s really nothing more they can do to break us down.” Guilty Simpson, the prodigious rapper who made a name for himself
music. Also, a lot of jobs aren’t there, so it makes some people work
working alongside legendary producer J Dilla, also saw the city’s lack of
harder on their passions. It’ll make somebody say, ‘You know what,
opportunities as a reason to create his own luck. As he told HUCK in a
I can’t find a job, so I’m going to put my all into this music project.
recent interview: “When you are a black person growing up in Detroit,
Let me put my heart and soul into this project that I’m working on, in
you realise at a certain age what your options are. You can work for one
the hope that I can make a living off my music.’ That’s all you have.
of the motor companies, play basketball or make music. This generally
Even though it’s frustrating, there not being any jobs and the economy
is your set of options unless you are a unique individual who wants to
going down, it’s really pushing people to do what they really love.”
Says Morgan: “Artists are the street journalists. It’s reflected in the
go into engineering or become a doctor. The city conditions you to find
So, will this story end with the fabled dollar signs of hip hop lore?
out what you have love for, then makes sure you do it and [become]
Detroit’s grassroots female rap scene, for all its talent, may have a long
exceptional at it. If you don’t do that, you can look outside the window,
way to go before its artists become successful outside city limits, but
see the poverty and what you could become if you don’t accomplish your
for now it’s enough that they’re still here. “They wrote us off over ten
goals. Detroit provides that reality – that landscape to work hard.”
years ago!” laughs Korona. “They wrote us off when Berry Gordy left
“It just makes us want to fight harder, to get to where we want to go,” adds Korona today. “We adjust to it, figure out a way, instead of just
with Motown. It’s nothing that we’re not used to. I try to blind myself to the depression of the city and look at the beauty of it instead.”
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The Solitary Arts crew hit the road for an ad hoc weekend of skateboarding and art, and find themselves slashing pools w i t h a f e w f a m i l i a r f a c e s a l o n g t h e w a y. Te x t A n d r e a K u r l a n d Photography Isaac McKay-Randozzi
For such a solitary pursuit,
skateboarding has a funny way
of bringing people together. It’s a simple, if somewhat contradictory phenomenon and, here’s the best bit, it can happen at the drop of a hat. Sure, impromptu sessions go down every day – pools get thrashed, sidewalks get surfed and abandoned cities get brought back to life – but they usually burn out as quickly as they start. It’s only when you throw a camera into the mix that
those serendipitous moments shared by a few become immovable fixtures of skateboarding lore – snapshots of stories that get bandied about, long after the dust has settled and the action fades. It’s lucky, then, that photographer Isaac McKay-Randozzi jumped at the opportunity to join The Solitary Arts crew on a recent road trip that, from the word go, seemed destined to take a few twists and turns. Founded by renowned artist Geoff McFetridge and organisational mastermind Yong-Ki Chang, The Solitary Arts is no ordinary skateboard company. With passion, not profit, taking the lead, each custom-built board boasts the unmistakable McFetridge stamp: in an industry that seems ready to churn out any ass-ugly, cost-cutting design, SA boards hover somewhere between rideable plaything and work of high art. So, it came as no surprise when The Solitary Arts was invited to take part in A Product of Design, an exhibition in Culver City’s Scion Space that saw designers from different disciplines showcasing personal passion projects – photos, artwork, installations and clothing designs – that blur the line between ‘product and art object, collectability and function’. With McFetridge building a nine-foot tall installation called the ‘Curb Thief ’ in LA, Chang gathered together The Solitary Arts team – a legendary little crew, with a mean age of forty-one, consisting of Virginia Beach local Bob Lake and Jef ‘All Hearts’ Hartsel of eighties’ Alva team fame – piled them into an ’86 Vanagon nicknamed ‘The Mule’ and set off from the Bay Area for an ad libbed skate tour for the middle-aged. “I wanted to share an experience that encapsulated our love as skateboarders for travelling, making art, showing at a gallery space, and getting some round-walls together as a family – all in a week,” explains Chang.
01 Hartsel looks on as Jay Adams carves. 02 Working with one shoe helps McFetridge focus on the task at hand. 03 On the trip down to LA, Bob Lake and Yong-Ki Chang talked about their last session at the Gonzales pool. 04 Fun times at the Gonzales pool, a bowl straight out of skateboarding lore.
From the word go, McKay-Randozzi
to the team, I knew that the interaction
Over the next few days, bowls were
was in: “When Yong-Ki asked me to be the
between him and Bob Lake was going to be
sessioned and good times had (in-between
photographer for the trip, I knew it was
something special. It was: they fed off each
all the hard work going down at Scion Space,
going to be something unique. Solitary Arts
other’s energy, skating like two kids who’d
that is.) Things took a magical twist when
doesn’t do events like this and with the
just downed double shots of espresso. It was
Z-boys legend Jay Adams rocked up at Arto
recent addition of legendary Jef Hartsel
pretty awesome to say the least.”
Saari’s Hollywood pool for a little spontaneous
05 EzRyder Originalz, Jay and Jef. 06 Inside The Mule. 07 Bob Lake and the Gonzo pool. 08 Geoff McFetridge hanging one of Isaac’s photos of Bob Lake at Scion Space in Culver City. 10 For a man in his fourth decade, Jef Hartsel still skates like a kid: frontside slasher on the hip. 11 A mix of generations hit the bowl that day: Alien Workshop and Vans AM Gilbert
slashathon. It’s been over three years since
– Adams is piecing together the best bits of his
summit of sorts, as two generations of fiercely
Adams was released from prison, and the
history, one sidewalk-surfing board at a time.
independent skate company owners found
mythology of his past still leaves a trail.
With Adams dropping in to the sound
Now, having reconnected with Jef Hartsel
of Suicidal Tendencies, and Hartsel, Chang
No matter how grown-up skateboarding
to resurrect EzRyder Originalz – the custom-
and Lake standing by for their turns, the trip
gets, that need to keep things totally DIY has a
built skateboard company he founded in 1975
inadvertently morphed into a subcultural
funny way of helping people connect
their like-minds interlocked.
09 McFetridge takes a moment to look over the nine-foot tall Curb Thief. Crocket with Jay Adams and Gravis/Analog man Mark Oblow. 12 Classic trick, 100 per cent Bob style.
Public space has never been such a contested issue. As t h e e c o n o m y f a i l s a n d g o v e r n m e n t s f l o u n d e r, s t o r i e s o f occupations, protests and riots have dominated the news. But for millions of Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers around the world, occupying open space is a way of life. The forced eviction of the illegal UK Dale Farm site may have grabbed headlines in recent months, but the Travellersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; dilemma is an ongoing global problem. When a communityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s culture clashes with their legal rights, who should compromise?
S pac e to be ale Farm looks like a bomb has hit it. As we pull up to the dirt road at the front of this Essex site, which in recent months has become the frontline of conflict between Irish Travellers and Basildon Council, an uncomfortable tension hangs in the air. Today, TV vans line the road and newspaper reporters and freelance journalists stand around chatting to activists and residents. The conversation is light and jovial but beyond the bustle, darkness lurks. Less than a month ago, around 400 residents of this once 1000-strong community were forcibly evicted for illegally living on green belt land – protected rings of countryside around UK cities intended to control urban sprawl. Although forty Romani Gypsy families were granted planning permission to live on Oak Lane, the land next to Dale Farm, between 1992 and 1996, the Irish Travellers who bought the neighbouring scrap yard in 2001 were not granted planning permission to live on it. After more than ten years of legal battles, Basildon Council were authorised by the high court to remove the Travellers on 19 October. At least 100 riot police entered the site, two people were tasered, mobile homes were dug up and moved on or placed in storage (at a cost the Travellers must cover), and Basildon Council racked up an official bill of £18 million (although many estimate it’s more like £20 million by now). The fruit of all that labour is this battlefield before us. There are huge trenches where homes used to be, and a grid of massive bund walls – made loosely with soil and scrap – make it impossible for residents of legal plots to access their properties. Rallying cries like ‘Resist’, ‘Home’, and ‘If not a scrap yard, then where?’ are scrawled across fences that still stand. A hand-painted signpost – that facetiously points to ‘Gaza’, ‘Tripoli’ and other infamous war zones – is marooned on a heap of rubble. The residents that have planning permission to remain here permanently must live among this detritus. Children are dodging puddles and rats. It’s a pretty apocalyptic scene. But how did it come to this? Is this mess the fallout of a legal battle, or the inability for two societies to live side by side? Is tension, protest and forced eviction the only possible outcome when one community’s culture and values clash with how society defines our legal rights? And who, if anyone, should compromise? This much is sure; there are no solutions in this mud.
Words Shelley Jones & Photography Mary Turner
and Irish Travellers are two
separate ethnic minorities. “But we’ve been thrown together by qualities that, from a distance, look the same,” says Romani rights activist, professor and historian Ian Hancock, now based at the University of Austin, Texas. As Director of Romani Studies, Hancock is responsible for the Romani Archives and Documentation Center – the largest repository of authentic Romani materials in the world. Like many minority group activists before him, he is undertaking the arduous task of rewriting the Romani canon and rescuing it from prejudice and myth. “It’s not just for Romani people, it’s for everybody. My primary mission is to educate not only our own people, but the non-Romani world as well. Because the so-called ‘Gypsy image’ is much better known than the reality... We lost our own history centuries ago,” says Hancock, adding that illiteracy and persecution have been to blame. “So we’ve never been able to tell outsiders who we are or where we came from. That’s why we got called Egyptians [shortened to ‘Gypsy’]. We’re not from Egypt! But that was some exotic place across the Mediterranean and the name stuck.” Romani Gypsies actually descend from India, and it’s likely they emigrated west in the eleventh century due to war and conflict. They have lived in Europe and the United States ever since, with an international population of about 12 million. “There are more Romanis in Europe than Swedes or Danes or Macedonians,” says Hancock. “We’re in every country, how European can you get? Yet our language, culture and bloodline is not European. It’s bizarre.” The origins of Irish Travellers are equally complex. In her book Irish Travellers: Racism and the Politics of Culture, Professor Jane Helleiner suggests that no single event marks the emergence of a nomadic population in Ireland. “Travellers in Ireland have been constructed,
and have constructed themselves, as an indigenous minority,” writes Helleiner. “The origin account that emerged in the fifties portrayed Irish Travellers as the descendants of peasants forced into landlessness and mobility by the evictions and famines suffered by the Irish during the centuries of British domination. [...] But activists like Nan Joyce have pointed to earlier theories that trace Traveller origins to a much older, pre-colonial Ireland.” Whatever their disparate roots, both Irish Travellers and Romani Gypsies were legally recognised as distinct ethnic groups in the UK by the amended Race Relations Act (2000). But ignorance still blurs their image in the public eye. “People define ‘Gypsy’ as anybody with a nomadic way of life,” says Hancock, “and that’s just pure ignorance. We’re not defined by horses and wagons and stealing chickens and babies. Some of us are professors, lawyers and film actors. [...] Nomadism as a social structure has to do with following cattle, crops and work. But the movement of Romanis in history has been forced, and those that have been moved on have had to adapt to making a living on the road. So things like mending or telling fortunes were popular because you didn’t need heavy equipment.” Although many Gypsies and Travellers work in similar ways today – repairing houses and roads instead of pots and pans, and trading cars instead of horses – the travelling image has been romanticised. “People think it’s some kind of genetic thing,” says Hancock, “that we have to wander. ‘It’s the Gypsy in my soul!’ But that’s all about control of identity. If you’re not educated, a stereotype can get out of hand, it
“ P e o p l e d e fi n e ‘ G y p s y ’ a s a n y b o d y wit h a n o m adi c wa y o f l if e , a n d t h at ’ s j u s t pur e ig n o ra n c e . ” 82 HUCK
takes on a life of its own.” There are Gypsies and Travellers that do still travel from site to site, or fair to fair, but it’s often a route that has been in their family for centuries, and many Gypsies and Travellers are looking for a place to base themselves permanently. But it’s not going to be in bricks-andmortar accommodation. “It’s like putting us in prison,” says David Sheridan, who has lived at Dale Farm with his wife Michelle and
four children since 2002. “My sister is travelling at the moment and
The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) may have
said we could stay in her chalet here, but we don’t want to! It’s too
repealed the duty imposed on Local Authorities to provide authorised
sites for Gypsies and Travellers, but Communities and Local
People flow in and out
Government Minister Andrew Stunell insists they are committed to finding solutions. “The New Homes Bonus and £60 million of site of the
grants will support councils to build and plan new official sites,” says
Sheridans’ caravan all day. Their kids play safely outside. Michelle’s
Stunell. “We will also give law-abiding Travellers better protection
elderly, incapacitated mother lives next door and they are free from
against eviction and the same rights and responsibilities as residents
the abuse – “stones, bullets, names” – they face in the non-Traveller world. You can see why they don’t want to leave. “We’re not just family
on other mobile home sites.” According to the EU Commission for Racial Equality, however, ninety
here,” says Michelle, “we’re carers and friends. It’s a community. One
per cent of planning applications made by Gypsies and Travellers are
man used to live with his fourteen grandchildren, now he has no one.”
refused (compared with twenty per cent made by non-Gypsies and non-
Most of the Travellers at Dale Farm stated they would have left
Travellers). Council representatives say those stats are disingenuous,
peacefully if a suitable site was provided for them. Basildon Council
as they don’t compare like-for-like land; if Gypsies and Travellers are
offered the Travellers houses, but the community didn’t view that
applying for land that is already green belt, a refusal should come as no
as a resolution. Shanterlena Knowles of the Travellers’ Times – a UK
surprise. But, as Timothy Jones, a planning and environment barrister
magazine for Gypsies and Travellers – is adamant that Travellers have
at No5 Chambers, pointed out in The Guardian recently, there are cases
a right to live in caravans like they have done for centuries. “If the
where land is taken out of the green belt to allow for the development
council expect Gypsies and Travellers just to go into houses, it’s not
of housing. Oak Lane is an example of one such compromise. The issue
gonna happen,” she says, with frustration. “It’s a culture that needs
with Dale Farm, says Basildon Council, is its size. “The applications
to be cherished and valued and I don’t think it’s fair to say that they
for Dale Farm were turned down at planning committee due to various
should all be moved into bricks and mortar, because Travellers find
highways and access issues,” states their website. “A Traveller site of
that kind of living unacceptable, and they can’t relate to it.”
eighty-five plots goes against all national guidelines for size of sites,
Indeed, there is no law stopping people living in caravans if they own
which suggests they should not be more than twelve or fifteen plots.
or rent the land where they are based and have planning permission.
There is not the infrastructure in the immediate area of Crays Hill for a
The problem is twofold: for one, many of the 300,000 Romani Gypsies
site as big as Oak Lane and Dale Farm combined.”
and Irish Travellers living in the UK have low incomes and, through
When Gypsies and Travellers do receive planning permission for
lack of education and illiteracy, find it difficult to secure loans to
a site, however, they are often met with violent opposition from local,
buy land; then, if and when land is secured legally, gaining planning
settled residents. As the inhabitants of Dale Farm point out, many
permission becomes a battle of its own.
homeowners complain that a site nearby reduces the market value of
“ W h e n y o u ’ r e m argi n a l i s e d a n d t h e r e ’ s h o s ti l it y fr o m o ut s id e , y o u ki n d o f c l o s e ra n k s a n d r e l y o n y o ur o w n c u l tur e a s a r e fug e . ”
their property. But,
like all pockets of
generation that are
social behaviour on the Travellers’ part
determined to have
usually stems from
a minority. “There’s
“We portray the true
criminal activity in
side of our culture,”
she says, “whereas
says Joseph G. Jones
the press continually
highlight the neg-
of the Thames Valley Gypsy Council. “I know a lot of Irish Travellers and generally speaking
atives. We also run a course called Travelling Voices, which is designed
they work hard, they’re close to their families and they have a lot of
to equip Gypsies and Travellers with basic media skills so they can
respect for each other. [...] People just fear what they don’t understand.”
represent and protect themselves in the media. We’re finding that we’ve
In a report called Guidance on Managing Anti-Social Behaviour
got a voice and we don’t have to take prejudice lying down.”
Related to Gypsies and Travellers released by the Department
With this platform for expression, a new political consciousness is
of Communities and Local Government last year, poor waste
emerging. “I’m hopeful about the future,” says Hancock. “Countries
management, untaxed vehicles, straying livestock, noise pollution
like the US, Brazil, Argentina and Canada, which are made up of
and hate crimes (of which Gypsies and Travellers are perpetrators as
immigrants, understand the importance of multiculturalism. There
well as victims) were some of the main issues flagged up. Ian Hancock
isn’t that ethnic nationalism – this ‘pure race notion’ – that exists in
believes a lack of integration may fuel some of these problems. But
Eastern Europe. [...] We’ve got to get past the idea that Romani Gypsies
minority groups have historically self-segregated. “I’m very much
or Irish Travellers follow a ‘lifestyle’. Travelling, or living in a static
in favour of integration,” says Hancock, referring specifically to
community of caravans and chalets, with other Gypsies or Travellers is
the Romani population, “but I’m very opposed to assimilation. And
an ethnic way of life. It’s not something you can switch on and off – ‘I’ll
I think it’s quite possible to be a loyal British subject and a Romani
be a Gypsy this weekend’ – like a hippie.”
at the same time. Muslims can handle it; orthodox Jews can handle it. If you alienate a minority in a country, they’re not going to feel a part of it and that can lead to conflict. [...] The Romani way of life is a
Back at Dale Farm,
the drama is still
thousand years old. It carries a culture and a language and that should
unfolding. The Sheridans and some other families will get a verdict
be recognised and accommodated. [...] When you’re marginalised and
on a planning application for a new site in Essex next week. If it falls
there’s hostility from outside, you kind of close ranks and rely on your
through, they will have nowhere to live. Their kids will leave school and
own culture as a refuge.” The media is also guilty of perpetuating stereotypes. Take TV series
they’ll have to set off in search of a new site.
My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, which confuses Romanis and Irish Travellers
case, but their actions expose problematic holes in our not-so-sacred laws.
from the get-go. It chose to sensationalise the fact that many Traveller
Gypsies and Travellers have a way of life that is at odds with our legal
women play a more traditional role – as stay-at-home wives – but failed
system: so who should change? Society and its laws, or an ethnic minority?
There’s no question that the council acted legally in the Dale Farm
to provide much historical context, or any examples where social change
The residents of Dale Farm are tired, but their sense of humour is razor-
is starting to unfold. “Women are getting a voice now,” says Hancock,
sharp. Everyone jokes, chatters and instantly remembers your name. In
again referring to the Romani population. “In my opinion, things
fact, the values at the heart of this community – family, respect for elders
like feminist movements come when the time is right for that specific
and a hard work ethic – are a breath of fresh air in an urban society built
community.” And thanks to the Internet, Gypsies and Travellers of all
around the individual. This community is made up of a million different
backgrounds are starting to represent themselves in new and authentic
stories. Perhaps it’s time more people started listening
ways. “The Internet is a diaspora medium for a diaspora people,” says Hancock, who runs his own Romani social network. “Wherever you are
Photographer Mary Turner has been documenting the lives of Travellers at Dale
in the world, you can talk to each other. It’s a huge boost for us.”
Farm since December 2008 – before, during and after the eviction.
John John Florence b y A l e x We l s h
Brooklyn-based photographer Alex Welsh gets a taste of the nomadic life of a teenage surfing wunderkind when he catches up with Hawaiian golden boy John John Florence at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz.
Name John John Florence
What is happiness to you? Happiness is being
What would you do with your life if the oceans
with my family and doing the things I like to do.
dried up? I’d be depressed and probably find the closest thing to surfing, skating or snowboarding.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned,
Home North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
When did you last let yourself go? In France. What is the one thing that you will never do? Roller blade.
and from who? Respect – and probably from
Would you rather be too warm or too cold, and
my mom and everyone here in Hawaii.
why? I’d way rather be too cold, because you can
What is your greatest fear? Large spiders.
always get warm and being too hot is the most What is your worst trait? Being too nice to people.
uncomfortable feeling in the world.
What has been your greatest regret? No regrets.
How would you describe yourself to a blind
If you could right one wrong in the world, what would it be? Cure little kids with cancer.
person? Tall, blond hair, blue eyes. How do you keep your ego in check? Surfing
What is the meaning of life? I’m still figuring this out.
and having fun, pretty much not thinking of
What gets you up in the morning? My alarm
any of it.
followed by the second and third alarms and
When is it okay to lie? It’s never okay, but we’re
sometimes the sound of big waves.
human and it happens.
Who or what inspires you? Andy Irons, Bruce
What is the one thing about you most people
Irons, Nathan Fletcher, John Cardiel and of
don’t know? That I’m into photography.
What qualities do you most like in people? Honesty and loyalty. What qualities do you most despise in people?
course my mom.
I despise people who think they’re better than others and who are deceitful.
What do you miss the most when on the road? When were you last surprised? When I found
out I made the WCT. What does the future look like? It looks like surfing.
If you could only keep three possessions, what If the world ended tomorrow, what would you do
would they be? My computer, my camera and my
What gets your heart pumping? Big waves.
today? I’d have the best day ever here in Hawaii.
What gets your blood boiling? When there’s
What does success look like to you? When you’re
Why do you surf ? Because it’s something I love to
traffic in front of my house every day.
happy about what you have accomplished.
do and will never get bored of.
A p p e n d ix I was nervous as I approached Steamer Lane. I’ve visited Santa Cruz countless times; I’ve stood on the cliffs with my parents and watched my little brother surf. Coming all the way from Brooklyn, the California coast was supposed to be a comforting sight, but as I approached the seaside peppered with tents for the O’Neill Cold Water Classic, I was nervous. I had forgotten how little I actually know about surfing – something that I was going to be immersed in for the next week. My fears were actualised the moment that I shook John John’s hand; I had no idea who he was or what he meant to the world of surfing. With John John focused on the competition, it was much more difficult to get quality time with him than I had imagined. It wasn’t until the end of his final heat that things started to turn around. That morning, I met his family for breakfast in downtown Santa Cruz. I arrived a bit late and sat at the end of the table across from Alexandra, John John’s soft-spoken mom. We talked for a while, and by the end of the conversation, she had regaled me with stories of trips to CBGB’s, sliding through old photographs on her iPhone of her father sporting a pompadour and standing in front of a hot rod in New Jersey where she grew up. I spent the rest of the day with John John, and after trips to the beach and skatepark, I didn’t leave the family’s apartment until later that night. By that time, we had formed a stronger, more genuine bond than I ever could have anticipated. Although the Cold Water Classic had come to a close, the next day, when the family left for San Francisco, I followed them.
John John patiently awaits a few warm-up waves in Steamer
fades, the family unloads their luggage and prepares for
Lane on the second day of the Cold Water Classic. The Lane
a walk on the beach.
ultimately failed to deliver its renowned world-class waves to the frustration of the surfers, and several days of the competition were relocated to Waddell Creek up the coast.
John John, along with several other competitors, descends down the cliff at Steamer Lane to catch a few last waves at the end of the first day of competition. The Lane’s point forms a
Despite being in an unfamiliar city, the family takes an
grandiose natural amphitheatre overlooking the competition,
intermission from their hectic schedule to enjoy Halloween in
and throughout the Cold Water Classic, fans line the cliffs to
San Francisco. John John applies the finishing touches to
observe the surfers directly beneath them.
his mother’s costume. His precocious talent and ensuing success has come with some sacrifice in his teenage years, but after several last-minute trips to the costume store, family
As he awaits his mother’s return from the costume shop, John John fiddles with his new GoPro camera, ready for Halloween.
and friends indulge in the Halloween tradition, adorned in
Aside from surfing, John John photographs his travels all
an array of fake wigs, eccentric props and lab coats festooned
around the world. He flips through impressive images from
with fake blood.
the likes of South Africa, Indonesia, Scotland and Portugal; it’s stunning to see the visual breadth of his teenage experience.
John John glances back to acknowledge several onlookers after emerging from a warm-up session at Steamer Lane. He returns to the truck as it’s announced the competition will head to
After John John surfs his last round of the Cold Water Classic, he escapes up the coast to relax and catch a few waves away from the competition. The group doesn’t last long in the icy
Waddell Creek for the afternoon.
water along a strip of beach known for Great Whites, so they
Three members of the Florence family – John John, brother
slowly hike back up to the truck and head back to Santa Cruz.
Ivan and mom Alexandra – look out over Ocean Beach towards
John Pyzel, left, has been shaping John John’s boards since he
the Cliff House, where his next competition is slated to take
was five years old.
place. John John leads a diligent lifestyle on the road, and there is often little time to enjoy his surroundings. He photographs his mother and brother together on the sand dunes with the
John John calls down to his mother who is bringing bags up to the Ocean Beach apartment. The nineteen-year-old travels
sunset behind them. John John shoots quietly; the waves
with his family to competitions across the globe. His mother,
crash as the shutter clicks a few times, creating another visual
Alexandra, believes its essential to the strength of the family
testament to the family’s extraordinary experiences.
and to John John’s success, and has hesitations about letting him travel by himself just yet. Alexandra raised John John and
John John arrives at the family’s rental apartment overlooking
his younger brothers Nathan and Ivan on her own in Hawaii,
Ocean Beach in San Francisco after a short trip up the coast
struggling much of the time to support them
from Santa Cruz. Here, he savours a rare day off to test the waves and enjoy the city before his next competition. As the day
We W ill Not BE
Our cities donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really belong to us. As private forces turn public spaces into areas where they exercise control, more and more ordinary citizens are taking back their cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s streets by physically refusing to budge. At a time when marching protests fall on deaf ears, is occupation our last resort? Te x t O l l y Z a n e t t i Illustration Andrew Holder
uesday 10 July 1945. Spaniard Pablo Picasso is speaking to Hungarian photographer Gyula Halász – better known by his pseudonym, Brassaï – in their adopted city of Paris. “Walls are a marvel, don’t you think?” says Picasso. “I’ve always paid a great deal of attention to what happens on walls. When I was young, I even copied graffiti. And how many times have I been tempted to pause in front of a nice wall and carve something on it. What held me back was…” “You couldn’t take it with you,” interjects Brassaï. Picasso laughs. “Yes, of course, the fact that you have to leave it there, abandon it to its fate. Graffiti belongs to everyone and no one.” It’s an eloquent observation. The two men, as we know from Brassaï’s records (later published as Conversations with Picasso), shared a fascination with graffiti and its place in the urban landscape. Picasso liked to create it and Brassaï – one of the first photographers to have paid it serious attention – liked to capture it. He began shooting graffiti in the 1930s, and by the 1960s, his pictures had been exhibited worldwide. The shows were accompanied by a book, Graffiti, which contained an interview with Picasso in which he professed his love for an art form that could only thrive in public space. Some sixty-five years on, what would Picasso and Brassaï make of today’s cityscapes? Perhaps the first thing they’d notice is how sanitised they’ve become. Rather than animated by street art, most walls are clean to the point of sterility. Clean, that is, bar a few neat signs that insist on barking orders at us – usually starting with a capitalised ‘NO’. No cycling. No skateboarding. No loitering. And the city’s oddballs, the characters who colour urban life, are vanishing, too. Take London’s Oxford Street. No more must visitors negotiate the once ubiquitous army of men clutching signs advertising ‘Golf Sale,’ or, on reaching Oxford Circus, ponder (or snigger) at the meaning of life according to preacher Philip Howard, a man who gained notoriety by imploring to passers by, ‘Don’t be a sinner, be a winner.’ These guys were given their marching orders by the New West End Company, a private enterprise that manages the area’s streets. ‘So what?’ I hear you say. Clean, ordered streets, with irritants and godsquadders out the way is a good thing, right? It depends on what, and who, you think cities are for. The New West End Company maintains just one of many so-called Business Improvement Districts that have sprung up across Europe and the USA. In these districts, control is handed from the public to businesses in the area, who pay a levy to fund the zone. Citizens, if consulted at all, don’t have their say democratically. Instead, their voice is expressed through market research surveys. The result? Places like Oxford Street might be great at making money, but that doesn’t necessarily make them great urban spaces. It’s not just Business Improvement Districts where private companies exert influence over space. Over the past few decades, a whole new kind of urban public space has emerged. This
is particularly true in the case of new developments. Anna Minton, who published her research on the subject in the book Ground Control,
“ T o s k at e i s to c o n s u m e s pa c e w it h o u t p a y i n g f o r it . So i n s k ati n g t h e r e ’ s a c r iti q u e o f t h e i d e a t h at w e e x i s t s o l e ly as consumers, t h at o u r r o l e i n c iti e s i s to be purchasers o f t h i n g s .”
explains her concerns. “Very often these public spaces are privately owned, so access is conditional on whether or not you obey the rules set down by the developer.” Such spaces range from the walkways in front of apartment buildings to the piazzas surrounding huge redevelopment projects like London’s Canary Wharf. Shopping malls are another common example. When such developments happen in the States, there’s outcry, but in Britain this hasn’t been the case. “What’s disturbing is how little debate there’s been. We’ve had this creeping privatisation of the public realm, and yet people don’t know what’s gone on at all.” If you’ve been stopped from skating by private security or the anti-skating devices that border almost every straight edge in a modern development, you’ve felt the effects of these new ways of ordering public space. Though unintentional, it’s taken the global financial crisis, or rather the Occupy movement’s response to the crisis, to push these issues into the public eye. Occupy’s story began on 17 September 2011, when protestors set up camp in Zuccotti Park in New York City’s financial district, a couple of blocks from the infamous Wall Street. The activists’ sentiment, that the majority are suffering the consequences for the reckless greed of the few, touched a nerve worldwide. Encampments sprung up in financial districts, and the frameworks governing public space became important. When Frederick Olmsted designed Central Park, back in the 1850s, he let his ideals of egalitarianism and democracy inform his design. Zuccotti Park, however, was built in 1968 as a sweetener offered to the city by property developers who wanted to add extra floors to a building next door. Today, it’s managed by its owners, Brookfield Properties, and regulated by the city’s privately owned public spaces laws. For a while, this served the demonstrators well. Being privately owned, the NYPD couldn’t force people to move on as they might do from a regular park, as the law said the space must be accessible twenty-four hours a day. When the inevitable eviction came, the authorities seemed to be clutching at straws for their justification, making vague references to health and safety concerns. At the London Stock Exchange occupation, also known as Occupy LSX, the story is similiar. The location of the camp, on the grounds surrounding St Paul’s Cathedral, was never intended. But the planned
a plaza directly in front of the Stock Exchange’s headquarters, is privately owned and its owners won a court order preventing occupation. Having set up camp below
found itself in legal limbo. Efforts
“When you occupy y o u ’ r e p h y s i c a l ly p r e s e n t . Yo u s ta y f o r s o l o n g you can’t just be ignored or w a f t e d a w a y.”
becoming an academic, Lefebvre’s thoughts on urbanism are rooted in experience. Iain summarises one of his arguments: “Urban space is continually reproduced. Space is made by buildings, but also it’s made by ideas, conscious representations such as maps and street names, architects’ drawings,
to evict the protestors via the
master plans and so on. And, it’s
courts have been problematic as
also made out of experiences, what
it became clear that no one was
people do in space. All these things
really sure whether the land was
together produce urban space. We
the responsibility of the Church or the City of London Corporation –
make space, but so too, space makes us. We produce the spaces around us,
the financial district’s municipal body – and consequently under whose
but they influence us, too. And we’re always changing. Therefore when
jurisdiction it fell.
skateboarders skate what they’re doing is producing urban space, but
Occupation is a well-practised political tool. In Berkeley, California, the People’s Park became the centre of opposition to the Vietnam War
they’re also producing themselves. They’re changing. You do something and you’re modified and changed by it.”
in the 1960s. In the 1980s, England’s Greenham Common was home to
It’s an argument that Robin Priestley would agree with. Robin is a
a feminist movement opposing nuclear missiles on a nearby airbase.
co-founder of Space Hijackers, a London-based collective that seeks to
Recently, students across Britain have organised sit-ins in universities
disrupt the ways we understand urban space. Skating was his influence,
to oppose tuition fee rises. But why occupy? Why bed down in a space to
too. “When you’re skating, you see the city in a different light,” he
make a statement, rather than simply walking through it with a banner
explains. “For example, where most people see a set of stairs you see
in hand? Ragnhild, an anthropology student and Occupy LSX activist,
something you can jump. You read the city in a different way. With the
explains: “Demonstrations can be a very powerful way of expressing
Space Hijackers, I was interested in building on that idea, and putting
yourself, showing that people can be bothered to go out into the streets.
little stories into the city that would change the way people read it.” If
But we’ve done that so many times and look what’s happened. When
skating can be political, so too, it seems, can cricket. For the past few
you occupy you’re physically present. You stay for so long you can’t just
years, he’s been organising anarchists-versus-capitalists cricket matches
be ignored or wafted away. That people are willing to actually stay here,
in the City of London. “We recruit everyone in the pub and then, at
not just spend three or four hours protesting, is a very powerful thing.”
midnight, we’ll play a match. It transforms spaces into playing fields, but
For Iain Borden, professor of architecture at UCL and author of
it also enables us to speak with these city boys, to talk politics around the
Skateboarding, Space and the City, skating too can be seen as a form
game. They never meet characters like us and we never meet characters
of occupation with political consequence. Unlike a demonstration,
like them. It’s a creative space where dialogue can happen.”
though, which tends to stay in one place, skating is transitory. This
For Robin, the cricket matches are also a good way to expose the
works in its favour, Iain suggests, for while political occupations are
capitalist team to urban spatial politics. “At some point in the game,
inevitably evicted, a skater’s mobility makes their occupation of space
inevitably, the police turn up to kick everyone off.” Being in the City, the
fluid and unpredictable – so they’re less likely to be stamped out by
matches take place on the capitalist team’s home turf, often in sight of
the authorities. But is skating really a political act? Iain proposes
their offices. They might feel at home, but as negotiations with security
a convincing argument. He talks of skaters offering an “embodied
tend to reveal, the way the land is owned means they aren’t at all. “We,
critique” of established norms. Skateboarding’s physicality, he suggests, is important. Skaters use their bodies in ways which run
the anarchists, step back a bit and let the city boys take on the politics.” Disruptions like these might be fun or unusual, but as Robin argues,
counter to the way we, the public, are supposed to behave. Rather
they are also democratically vital. “The public realm is important because
than the calm, ordered bodies that work in offices or spend money in
it makes you bump into people and things you don’t necessarily like. In
shops, skaters are energetic, and they respond to urban architecture in
public space, you have to see all facets of life rather than being able to just
unexpected ways. For Iain, the word ‘critique’ is key. “Although skating
live in a bubble.” Which is surely important. As citizens, we’re the people
doesn’t say ‘no’ in the way a political movement might, it’s suggesting
who construct our societies, so we should be able to tolerate seeing them
an alternative.” An alternative, he goes on to note, that’s rooted in anti-
as they really are, not purified, with their unpalatable aspects – political
capitalist discourse. “Skaters aren’t buying things, they’re not renting
protesters or homeless people, skaters or street art – hidden from view.
space by buying a coffee or spending money in a shopping mall. To
But with space becoming ever more tightly regulated, genuinely public
skate is to consume space without paying for it. So in skating there’s a
spaces are disappearing. So how can we protect them?
critique of the idea that we exist solely as consumers, that our role in
“If we want great urban public spaces, I think the main thing to do
cities is to be purchasers of things.” Iain’s take on urban space is informed by French philosopher Henri
is to use the ones we’ve got, and use them in as many different ways as
Lefebvre. Having spent a couple of years driving a taxi around Paris before
testing the boundaries a little.”
possible,” Iain Borden suggests. “And sometimes, maybe, that involves
Your city belongs to you. Reclaim Public Space by doing something good, and help the world remember what’s great about your home.
HUCK wants you – yes you! –
to show us what you love about the public spaces that surround your home. Whether you live next door to some worldclass break, in the middle of a bustling metropolis or on a glacial ice cap out at sea, you have a right to enjoy the open spaces that have yet to be sold to some dude in a suit. And when it comes to exercising that Mother-Earth-given right, there are about a gazillion cool things you can do:
Throw a party! Have a picnic! Build a treehouse! Grow some weird herbs! Skate! Surf! Roller-fuckin’-blade! Say goodbye to expensive lift tickets and go jib that stair-set you pass every day! Tie wheels to your feet and invent a new sport! Gather together your Lycra-lovin’ friends and dance your little tuchus off in tribute to Spike Jonze! Take your dog/cat/ferret for a walk! Make something beautiful and let it out into the world!
Do whatever the hell you want,
so long as you respect your fellow citizens and (kinda) play by the rules. Then document your exploits – as photos, videos, letters or art – send them to us and we’ll gather together the best bits in an ode to public space.
Send stuff to: email@example.com To submit your videos, please only send Vimeo/YouTube links. For full terms and conditions, see huckmagazine.com/reclaimcomp
NO STARS “A HORRIBLE ALBUM THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LISTEN TO. AND I MEAN THAT. I DON’T HAVE EARS. PUT ME BACK IN THE DIRT.” – AN EARTHWORM
ENJOYED BY ALL LIVING THINGS WITH EARS. Introducing 1% For The Planet: The Music Vol. 1, featuring Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, Jackson Browne, and more. All proceeds benefit 1%’s continued efforts to make the planet a more beautiful place. Visit music.onepercentfortheplanet.org to listen to exclusive tracks.
totally devoted to all things art Curated by
Shepard Fairey will go down in history as the guy who proved street art can be a mobilising force, but his name is not the only one etched onto the wall. All around the world â&#x20AC;&#x201C; down darkened alleys and behind closed doors â&#x20AC;&#x201C; millions of artists are using their creative muscle to transform our planet, one message-packed piece at a time.
In this curated edition of Endnotes, street art academic and writer Tristan Manco introduces five artists that are shaking things up and proving that authenticity is still very much alive.
The fundamentals of Street Art of Street Art of Street Art WITH TRISTAN MANCO street art may have segued into the gallery world, but it will never be stripped of its outsider status. Here, one of the UK’s leading street art authorities takes us through the fundamental tenets of this DIY world.
n recent years, the energy and exuberance of the global street art scene has captivated the public’s imagination; from the outstanding creations of São Paulo wunderkinds Os Gêmeos to the ingenious and powerful works of Italian painter and animator Blu. Over the past decade, a generation of innovative artists have emerged from what was once a relatively underground movement to create quality work with passion and meaning. Greater public interest and critical acclaim for street art has grown alongside increased media coverage and commercial attention. While street art’s mass appeal is part of its success, it also presents a challenge. For a subculture that exists outside the mainstream art establishment, it can be seen to sit in a contrary position; while it represents freedom of self-expression it is often, like other youth cultures before it, simultaneously co-opted by fashion and advertising. As its popularity grows, can street art survive the hype that surrounds it? Can it continue to play to its strengths while staying true its roots? As street art continues to evolve under the critical spotlight, it becomes increasingly easy to lose sight of what makes it interesting and relevant in the first place. Luckily, there are a number of ingredients that, in my opinion, will continue to make street art unique. 101
DIY principles are at the heart of street art’s ethos; rather than wait to seek approval
Self-expression is a key part of street art, but to truly make the most of the medium
or funding, artists can express themselves by reclaiming and transforming a small
it needs to engage with the public and the community at large. Artwork that
space within the urban environment. When this process becomes too organised,
reflects its neighbourhood and inhabitants gains a natural respect and as such
sponsored or sanctioned, it naturally loses that original freedom and energy.
becomes adopted by and integral to a community. The perfect example of this
Within this art practice, materials and approaches tend to be lo-fi, such as the use
is the work of Parisian photographer JR, who uses the street as his gallery and
of stencils, stickers, posters, felt-tip markers, chalk and paint. Aesthetically, these
pastes giant blow-ups of his own photographs on city walls. In the case of the
low-budget methods have a raw and fresh immediacy of expression especially as
Women project, which in 2008 turned its attention to the marginalised Favela
many are created spontaneously and in situ. Recycled and hand-made items are
of Morro da Providência in Rio de Janeiro, JR posted photos of the impressive
also commonly used, keeping costs and environmental impact to a minimum.
women he met onto the facades of the entire favela. The result was spectacular;
In common with other DIY art practices, such as the lowbrow movement, artists
all across the hillside, the women’s giant eyes looked down protectively upon
can often be self-taught or have created their own visual universe free from
their neighbourhood. In 2011, JR received the TED prize – previous winners
traditional or academic constraints.
include Bill Clinton – in recognition of the importance of his work.
images are shared via the Internet, these same messages can also effectively reach
An important aspect in graffiti culture that is applicable to street art is learning
artists are particularly adept at working with and understanding communities at a
how to win and give respect to other artists they share the city with. Those that
personal level, without the usual red tape required by institutions.
Street art can be used to reflect local and global issues at a street level, but as global media. Not all urban art has to have a social conscience; it can be equally effective and socially motivated to simply beautify an area that might otherwise be overlooked. Although this can be achieved through public art programmes, street
seek fame at all costs by crossing out other artists, unbalance the equilibrium of the street ecosystem, while those artists who pay their dues to others in turn gain a long-term respect within the artistic community. Cultivating an understanding and awareness of others, rather than simply furthering one’s own career, is an important life lesson that is a reminder of the social dimension of street art. The actions of an artist are as significant as their motives, therefore art that is created in the public realm with a generosity of spirit will ultimately have a longer lasting and meaningful connection with its audience.
Creative Freedom Street art encompasses many genres, styles and media from painting to
The Medium is tHe MEssAge
collage, subvertising to sculpture. A commonality, across this broad spectrum,
What sets street art apart from other forms of contemporary art is the appropriation
‘anything goes’ attitude, sometimes the collaborations happen retrospectively,
of space; the medium and message are inextricably intertwined, and for the artist
as artists add details and layers over existing work, creating unplanned, richly
strategic placement is everything. The found textures, geography, architecture,
layered compositions. At its heart, street art remains true to the basic human act
and overall composition all add meaning and visual qualities to a street piece. By
of unfettered creation and personal creativity. Tristan Manco
is the freedom to place art where you want without censorship or commercial constraints. Artists are free to experiment with various media in an unrestrained way, on a scale that would otherwise be hard to achieve with studio-based art. Peculiar to this genre is an openness to create alongside others. Studio artists rarely collaborate, yet this is something that can be hugely creative and beneficial. Creating a piece of work with others can spark off new creative partnerships and visual languages that may never have been reached alone. Graffiti crews, in particular, celebrate the act of painting spontaneously while spurring each other on to innovate stylistically and create rich new forms. In the spirit of urban art’s
placing this art in what are considered to be non-art contexts, artists challenge the status quo both in how the art world operates and how city spaces function. It
Raw + material = art: found, scavanged and upcycled, by Tristan manco, will
can communicate directly with the public about social and political themes using
be published by thames & hudson in april 2012.
new aesthetic languages outside the traditional contexts of art. What works outside might not work as well in a gallery, for instance bright colours, simple logos and bold outlines all pack a punch on a wall in a way that wouldn’t quite be the same on a canvas. The use of humour through text and visual jokes is also very effective outdoors, with the landscape incorporated into the punch line – just look at the work of British artist Banksy as a case in point. Likewise, Brazilian twins Os Gêmeos use neighbourhoods rather like a theatre or film set in which their own characters can run amok. Consequently, what messages street art can convey are directly connected with the artists’ chosen environment – how and where they choose to leave their mark.
Check in to the
music world of
I’ve lived in three very different worlds. I was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moved to New York City when I was twenty-four years old. That’s where I got my start as an artist. I was a cartoonist for about three or four years and then I became a puppeteer and a set designer. I lived in New York for ten years and moved to Los Angeles in 1990 where I’ve lived ever since. The most valuable thing I’ve found out is that it doesn’t matter if you’re not constantly being nurtured in a fine arts world from a young age. You don’t necessarily have to be around high culture to be a good artist. As long as you have an imagination, you can make it up on your own. I’m from a blue-collar working-class family where art wasn’t particularly valued. When I grew up during the sixties there were no museums or art of any kind. I didn’t come from that kind of cultured background. I was alone, without many art influences, so I just used my fantasy of what an artist was and made it up for myself. That’s what gave me the freedom to try so many different things. I was never told, ‘You can only be this.’ In my fantasy, an artist can do anything he wants to do, as long as he has the willpower and the sincerity. My naivety helps me become all these different roles. I call my word paintings the world’s shortest short stories. I think of the words as buildings and architecture. I wanted to push the boundaries of these structures, just like architects push the boundaries of the basic cube. They’re like graffiti – huge mural-style graffiti in these calm countryside scenes. The reasoning behind them being so brash was that I just wanted to cut to the chase. I wanted to stop using metaphors and symbols and allusions about what I wanted to say. The challenge was to just come right out and say it without all these vague, veiled references. I get met with a lot of raised eyebrows in the art world. A lot of people don’t take me seriously; they think I’m merely funny. But humour is so essential. Without it we’re dead. Everybody discounts it and thinks it’s trivial, but it’s really one of the most essential qualities of being alive. Humour is full of every emotion
Puppeteer, painter, sculptor, cartoonist, illustr ator – Wayne White has done it all. Most iconic is his word art, where thought-provoking and humorous text ploughs through peaceful landscape scenes. Her e , he dis cu s se s his jour ne y, what his work is really about and why fine art needs to get down off its high horse.
there is. There may be a laugh, but underneath the laugh there’s a world of human understanding. Going from Tennessee to New York City to Los Angeles, from cartoonist to painter to puppeteer, I know how it feels to cross over. That’s what I’m trying to do with my art – express that experience and say, ‘There’s no real, fundamental difference between high and low art.’ There’s depth of feeling and emotion and meaning in both and you have to get out of your mindset, your comfortable world, and cross over, too. One of the whole themes of my life and my work is crossing over and being a messenger from another world. A lot of people think that fine art shouldn’t communicate; it should be hermetic and only available to a chosen few and you have to know this code to understand it. That’s fine. Art will always be that way. But my approach is that you can still have depth to an image and communicate, too. I think fine art can communicate and still have depth. I think that’s the great advantage of public art – that it gets down off the fine art pedestal and just communicates. The American Dream’s in trouble, now that’s for sure, but it’s something I’ve lived and triumphed in. I have a very positive idea of what you can do in America with a little willpower and ambition. I do have this positive romantic vision of the American Dream. This sort of Woody Guthrie hitting the road, making your dreams come true, hard living, getting there, country mouse, city mouse kind of thing. That’s one of the things I love. No matter what country you’re in, I love the hero’s journey. When I’m flattering myself, I see myself in that role. And in a way I guess that’s what my work is about. WAYNE WHITE beauty is embarrassing, a documentary about WAYNE white’s life, will be out in spring 2012.
Since 2008, guerrilla duo Luzinterruptus have set up light installation art around Madrid in or der t o br ing l uminou s at t en t ion t o t he p robl ems t h at t he y f ind in t he ci t y. Her e , t he y reflect on how the global financial predicament, a large catalyst to their work, has both helped in the production of their pieces and cast a gnarly shadow over them at the same time.
± Light± ± We are not frightened by the financial crisis – we are happily working with
± The ability to keep what we spend to a minimum has made us free to accept assignments that give us true satisfaction, while allowing us to make a little bit of money to continue to carry out our guerrilla interventions. These are the projects that really give meaning to our work and keep us busy, creatively speaking.
it. Some do their upmost to make us believe that it is a problem that should concern us on an artistic level, but on the basis of respect for it, we have made
± So this crisis, as well as being something to be feared, has proven valuable for
it our ally.
us – something that we love and respect in equal parts.
± We can say that we are out in the street thanks to it. The loss of our jobs gave us the time and courage to carry out projects of intervention with light that we never had time to carry out in a serious manner.
≠ S h a d o w≠
± Through it we have learned to value, on a practical level, the power of art in
≠ We are afraid of the crisis, this deep, dark crisis, in which creativity and
the street. Street art helps in the construction of the city; it gives it identity and
personal freedom are seriously affected.
promotes social interaction.
± Before the crisis, we spent our time in interior spaces in which the use of light is designed to make your stay more pleasant and comfortable (although it does
≠ It makes us think constantly about how to earn a living, leading us to work in areas where we feel uncomfortable and underused, all so that we do not have to make too many concessions in our artistic work.
not always succeed). We don’t have anything to contribute to these ‘designed spaces’. We are not lighting designers, nor do we want or know how to be so.
≠ It has succeeded in ensuring that we are not free to dedicate our time solely to what we love; we are always juggling things in order to combine the work
± We tell stories through lights and also through the shadows that they generate.
that feeds us with the creative work that enriches us spiritually.
For that, we need to be on the street in a space in which people come into direct contact with our work, without any preconceived ideas.
≠ It has also meant that we cannot carry out projects on a larger scale, which really interested us, having no funding to produce the pieces.
± The crisis has also opened our eyes to the senseless urban lighting projects that cities set up for their own prestige. This expenditure on production and
≠ The crisis that we fear means that we cannot work on certain projects that
consumption of power is rising to unprecedented levels.
count on the patronage of brands to carry out our ideas.
± We have learnt to work with the concepts of recycling, reusing and low costs.
≠ This crisis has led to serious competition with people from similar artistic disciplines, meaning we now consider our peers enemies more than allies.
± We have drawn a great deal from the streets without asking for permission to work and, of course, without having to pay to do it. We believe that as citizens
≠ To sum things up, this crisis brings out the best and the worst in us; it makes
we have the right to be there with our lights, provided that we do not inflict
us strong and weak and gives us infinite issues to deal with in our interventions.
disorder upon the rest of the citizens who have the same rights as we do.
Who says that the crisis is so bad? Luzinterruptus
Bastardilla is a street painter based in BogotÁ, Colombia. Her enchanting pieces – featuring hummingbirds, mythical animal-human hybrids and women wrapped in Hijab-like blankets of hair – can be found in many districts all over South America, brightening up the abandoned corners of otherwise troubled neighbourhoods. Here, she picks five women, among the thousands, that inspire her work.
was a writer of Ukrainian origin who lived in Brazil almost her entire life and wrote intimate and emotional stories full of complex feminine characters. claricelispector.com.br
is a Colombian writer and investigative journalist who shares her thoughts in publications that are mostly independent and free of charge. diasfrios.org
was a North-American artist who used the advertising landscape, such as wall posters, to express her own ideas and demands. barbarakruger.com
is the wise old woman of the native village of Tubu in Vaupés, Colombia. A philanthropist and poet, she is known for her memorable songs and ballads as well as her abundant reflections on the condition of life. tubucommunity.org
is a native Bolivian thinker and leader of the Housewives’ Committee, dedicated to improving the lives of miners and peasants, who calls for resistance against the injustices of various military governments. let me speak, by domitila barrios de chungara, is published by monthly review press.
BAD BRAINS, 1982
Be a member of the Bright Brigade Register at www.brighttradeshow.com January 19 till 21, 2012. Berlin
JANUARY 19 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 21, 2012 / BERLIN W W W. B R I G H T T R A D E S H O W. C O M
Berlin-based street artist Evol is interested in the corners of cities that most people don’t see. B y PASTING s t e n c i l s o f m i n i a t u r e h i g h - r i s e b l o c k s on everyday utility objects like electricity boxes and concrete barriers, he draws eyes away from flash billboards and focuses them on the areas of urban space that have been pushed aside. It’s important, says Evol, that we don’t forget these buildings and the people they house. The things I create are not really beautiful. You may think they are nice because
from the shops that once stood there, and many other things like this. The walls
they are small and unexpected, but in reality they are always located in rundown
were a canvas of a generation of artists and people that had left their marks. These
places where there’s a lot of trash. They’re depressing facades made from depressing
buildings are like open books to me. Now, this quarter has grown quite popular,
materials. I pick disasters in architecture: buildings that started architecturally and
so investors have bought the properties and renovated them very quickly and
socially as big utopias, promising a better living for all kinds of people, but that
cheaply. They dump gallons of yellow paint over the buildings to make them look
turned into ghettos in the end. It’s happening everywhere, from East Berlin to Paris
‘nice’ in their eyes and they wash away all the charm and stories – all this stuff that
to London, and beyond. To me, those buildings are a symbol of a class society
where the leading class is pushing certain people out to the city borders. So, I bring them back into the city centres as small reminders. It feels like inner cities are getting more and more commercialised. They are developed as transit spaces, I think. It’s really sad to see that public space, where all
I prefer to place my work in really unspectacular corners that most people overlook. And by doing that I hope to make people look at these spaces and create an awareness for something they haven’t seen before. I’d be pleased if I could help people look a bit more closely at their own neighbourhoods, or even lives.
kinds of people could clash and meet, is disappearing. We give away the aesthetics
But who am I to know what a perfect city is? That’s probably the first step in a
of our inner cities to companies that are somehow allowed to bombard us with
utopia becoming a dystopia! The best thing ever is probably diversity. If there are
advertisements. So the people who actually live there have less and less say in what
too many restrictions and people can’t express themselves then everything gets too
the neighbourhood looks like. There’s no real way for people to participate in their
anonymous. I’m always looking for details in urban spaces because there are so
many stories to be told. The traces people leave in weird, funny or tragic situations
When I moved to my neighbourhood eleven years ago, there were a lot of
speak a lot of the area I’m walking through. Evol
nineteenth-century buildings that were quite rundown and empty. But their facades were full of history. You could find bullet holes from World War II, paintings
First st in in SURFING S SU URFING NEWS NEWS First
www.surfersvillage.com Rider: Tim Boal / Photo: Agustin Munoz/Red Bull Photofiles / Design: ID
HOMecoming HOMecoming HOMecoming E v a n R o t h i s a n a r t i s t a n d s e l f - c o n f e s s e d ‘ h a c k t i v i s t ’ w h o s e w o r k i s i n s p i r e d b y h i p h o p, g r a f f i t i , t e c h n o l o g y a n d t h e I n t e r n e t. H e h a s l i v e d i n P a r i s f o r t w o y e a r s a n d n e x t y e a r w i l l m o v e t o D e t r o i t t o ta k e u p a d i s t i n g u i s h e d professorship at Eastern Michigan Universit y and exhibit new work in his show Welcome to Detroit. Here, he ta l k s a bou t coming home t o De t roi t a nd ho w a r t is t s t her e a r e u sing gr a f f i t i t o r ecl a im t heir ci t y.
I grew up in Michigan, an hour and a half outside of Detroit. Welcome to Detroit is like
Graffiti is a visual way of showing how the people who live in a certain city
a homecoming. It’s the first time I’ve ever made work from where I come from. I’ve
are represented versus the companies that are advertising there. To me, when
lived all over the world, from Washington D.C. and Los Angeles to Hong Kong and
there’s graffiti on the street it means that there is a group of people who actually
New York. Now I live in Paris and will move to Detroit in 2012. I’ve visited Detroit
care about their city and who are making things, as opposed to people who only
recently and all of a sudden it has become one of the most exotic places I’ve seen.
cause destruction. People view graffiti as a stain; you have a beautiful city and
Detroit is definitely a city that’s in decline. You can’t even get a sense of it until
graffiti makes it less beautiful than it should be. But then you go to Detroit and
you go there: it’s just devastating. It feels like Katrina came through there. But while
that same graffiti, when placed next to a completely destroyed structure, all of a
it’s a bad thing for the community, the art scene there is thriving. Artists are trying to
sudden looks more beautiful than the desolation. Graffiti is essentially a painting
take this horrible situation and turn it into something better than it is.
in a different context and it can make things looks better.
A lot of pieces I’ll be showing at Welcome to Detroit are Detroit-specific. For
I was in Detroit a couple of weeks ago and it’s really exciting right now. There
example, I spent some time taking pictures of graffiti there and will create pieces that
are a bunch of people who have been there for years doing art and they still
refer to Detroit’s street art. I’ve taken photos of all the tags I could find and then I’m
have a long way to go, but the arts community in Detroit – as opposed to, say,
going to go through them, find the most commonly used letters and see how graffiti
New York – is so united. They really want Detroit to become a hub of artistic
artists in Detroit are writing these characters. I’m going to look at the characters
development. Art has a lot of competitiveness to it, but the people of Detroit
and see what they are doing and how people are using them and understand them.
seem to have a completely different perspective to other artists I’ve met. There’s
The idea of hacking is one that inspires me very much. I do a mix of art but the
a lot of optimism there and artists are helping each other. What I see in Detroit
thing that connects it all is this concept of ‘the hack’ – the idea that various elements
is a group of people struggling to make art in a city that’s falling apart, which is
of pop culture can be decoded in certain ways. Similarly, I think of cities the way
what art should really be about. Evan Roth
that computer hackers think about software. I look at a city and think, ‘How can I make small changes and subvert the meaning of something in a specific way?’
01. When HUCK interviewed Shepard Fairey for the second issue, the street art icon handed over these rad Obey stickers. Five years on and they’re still subverting our desk space. 02. The Solitary Arts rock an awesome ethos and this ‘Join Us’ sticker is a legacy to their collaborative spirit. solitaryarts.com 03. A month before Trevor Colden won the Tampa Am 2011, HUCK visited Skatepark of Tampa (featured in Tony Hawk II) for PreFest, an all-day warm-up gig for punk festival Fest. noidearecords. com 04. Swiss photographer Yves Suter loves all things print. Strawberry Snow – a limited-edition, self-published book – documents his one-month snowboarding trip with Dominik Betschart around Japan. yvessuter.com 05. HUCK co-hosted the UK premiere of Sweetgrass Productions’ inspirational movie Solitaire with Patagonia in November 2011. sweetgrass-productions.com 06. No one understands how power manifests itself in urban planning like professor Mike Davis. In City of Quartz, published by Verso Books, he lifts the lid on why LA looks and functions the way it
does. versobooks.com 07. Proving that all good things come full circle, HUCK founder Vince Medeiros interviewed Thomas Campbell for this 2002 edition of Adrenalin, the magazine through which HUCK’s founders met. 08. During October 2011 we moved offices. Our new space – which we (TCOLondon) share with our friends Stack Magazines and MagCulture – is going to be ace, although it’s currently a work in progress. Keep checking in for updates on what we’ll be up to in 2012. thechurchoflondon.com 09. Michelle Pezel, who heads up the rad Anti-Social skate shop in Vancouver, has teamed up with her gnarly lady friends to document their skate/ motorcycle escapades through the xeroxed pages of Idlewood ’zine. antisocialshop.com 10. HUCK travelled up to Newcastle to attend the Turner Prize on December 5. George Shaw’s muted suburban wastelands may have stolen the show, but Glasgow School of Art graduate Martin Boyce – who created a pseudo-pastoral installation with metallic trees and scattered paper leaves – walked away with the
prestigious title. 11. In 2006, we knocked together this cover to get an idea of how HUCK may look and feel. Now, with thirty issues behind us, it’s nice to look back on day one. 12. Jeffrey Eugenides, esteemed Detroit-based author of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, talked at The Guardian book club in London in November to promote his new book, The Marriage Plot, which has been ten years in the making. When quizzed about the legitimacy of his gender-bending narrative voice, he replied, “I am I before he or she.” 4thestate.co.uk 13. HUCK visited David Lynch’s new Mulholland Drive-inspired Paris nightclub, Silencio, last month. 14. The legendary Art Dump collective were asked to design the board graphics for Chocolate Skateboards’ ‘Bomb’ series recently. Evan Hecox whipped up this lovely plank for the Chris Roberts pro model. chocolateskateboards.com 15. HUCK creative director Rob Longworth won APA ‘Designer of the Year 2011’ for his work on Google’s Think Quarterly, a publication designed and edited at TCOLondon HQ.