International Photography Festival: Common Strangers at House of Vans
Skateboarding has long been the domain of misfits and those trying to find themselves on the fringes of society. It is a sport that provides a sense of individual achievement as well as the social aspect of bringing people together to celebrate that achievement.
In a similar vein, those who document skateboarding, be it through film or video, have always played an essential role in changing the perception of skateboarding. They have found the beauty in it and the world it embodies as an art form. The Independent Photography Festival celebrates the work of young artists from around the world who are taking art into their own hands, through alternative means. Here, eight young photographers who are linked by the common thread of skateboarding display their works.
With the use of common themes in their choices of pieces, be they colour or landscapes, we get a diverse perspective of what skateboarding means on an international level.
SkatePal is a charity that provides skateboards to youths living in Palestine, whose childhoods have been marred by war, poverty and tragedy. Some of the pictures taken here are as a result of the project or based in the Palestinian West Bank, including those by Sam Dearden, which capture the desolate beauty of the region.
Maen Hammad’s latest skate flick Kickflip over Occupation is also played; it’s more than just an artistic piece of skateporn, rather a means of protest art in its very existence. The young subjects of the film are relatable in their dry humour. They are under no illusions about the difficulties of their existence, yet find true freedom in skateboarding.
Adrian Louw’s shots of Namibian skate culture could be a road trip through any desert, suggesting freedom and the unknown. It highlights a skateboarder’s ingenuity and the ability to see an opportunity in anything, even in literal dust.
House of Vans London is a structure under the arches in Waterloo that provides a gallery space, a screening space, ramps and a bar. It is a true celebration of skateboarding as a lifestyle under the brand that is now synonymous with making skateboarding appeal to the masses, without making it mainstream. Therefore it is the perfect venue to play host to this exhibition, which celebrates the freedom, unity and creativity of skateboarding.
International Photography Festival: Common Strangers is on at House of Vans from 18th until 29th November 2015, for further information visit here.