2 minute read

Louisa Menke

Following her part in the 2002 Dutch skate video “Visualised,” and three consecutive wins in skate competitions, Louisa became the first European woman with a pro model board. The Dutch- Algerian skateboarder now lives in Barcelona where she works as an English teacher and an artist. Skateboarding remains one of her biggest inspirations in life.

How did you first get into photography?

Hmm. When I won my first European contest back in 2001, I bought a digital pocket camera with the prize money. With that camera I started documenting all the parties I went to and shared them on a website named partygirlproductions.tk. I did that for about 5 years but I wasn’t thinking about photography at all. The camera was just a tool to document all the fun that we would forget about the next day. At some point my friend Marcel Veldman helped me order a Yashica T5 on eBay and this is when I really got into it. Thanks Marcel.

Why do you choose to shoot photos of skaters but not “skate photos”?

It’s not that I choose to shoot photos of skaters but they come along because skateboarding is a big part of me. I’ve never really been interested in shooting photos of tricks but I like to film them.

Do you look at skateboarding differently now, compared to when you skated professionally?

Yes, I like it even more.

Your photos in the Yeah Girl exhibition are from a zine you recently created. What’s the story behind that?

[Untitled]. Johannesburg 2016. Louisa Menke

The photos are from the second zine we made with Forgotten Fanclubs, a zine platform my friend Petra Valdimarsdottir and I made to make limited edition zines. The zine is called “Colorful hearts filled with rhythm and rainbows, no one can dance the way you do”. It’s a Johannesburg experience.

You were also part of the documentary “Get Used To It”. How did that opportunity come about and what did it involve?

Blam Studio asked me to co-star in their documentary about women’s empowerment, skateboarding and Skateistan, based in Johannesburg. This is how my zine came along. The documentary involved me skateboarding with the locals and talking about being a skateboarder/ artist. It was an amazing time.

[Untitled]. Johannesburg 2016. Louisa Menke

As someone who shoots entirely on film, what are your thoughts on digital platforms like Instagram?

I like film because you can touch it and develop it etc. It’s like cooking. Digital is different; you can never really touch it. It’s like when you look at yourself in the mirror, you can’t get in but you can look. Instagram reminds me of that. It’s interesting but strange.

What is the best photography advice you’ve ever been given?

When I was young my grandfather explained to me about compositions and I will always remember that.

If you were hosting a fancy dinner party, which three skateboarders would you invite and why?

Patty McGee because she’s a legend and I would love to meet her. Ed Templeton because his photos inspire me and I would love to meet him too. Javier Sarmiento because I think he would look really nice in a suit.

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