In an effort to introduce Dubai’s youth to the importance of street culture, a skateable art sculpture, modelled on traditional Arabic calligraphy, has been constructed at Tashkeel in collaboration with FN Designs and UK street artist Amartey Golding. Inside the gallery, a ‘dexhibition’ of art displayed on old skateboards (donated by avid local skater Maysam Faraj) invites viewers to rethink the skateboard deck and appreciate the sport as a form of artistic expression.
Entitled ‘Fakie 2012’, the show features 30 artists from across the UAE, each hand-picked in September 2011 based on their portfolios. The exhibition will run at the gallery until February 17, when main event and social media experiment Skate Biladi will bring the huge skateable ramp to life. Here we get the lowdown from four of the artists.
Rebecca Rendell, 28, British Title of work: ‘Budrus’.
Can you explain the concept behind your idea? The scene depicted on the skateboard segments is of a small village called Budrus, located in the West Bank. Palestinian olive farmers demonstrated against the Israeli government during the construction of a separation barrier, a fence that originally would have cut off the community. The families of Budrus used non-violent protests for almost a year before they succeeded in pushing the border police back and altering the route of the barrier, thus saving their livelihoods. I felt inspired to share this message of empowerment.
What did the skateboard look like when it was first given to you? The skateboard was snapped into two pieces. Written on it was: ‘This board got taken by the police, so we got it back!’ I decided to work with the two separated pieces in relation to the dispute in Budrus.
What materials did you use? Cardboard, paper and sand.
Can you skate? I’ve done some rollerskating and I love going ice-skating.
Why do you think street culture, such as skateboarding, is so important to society? It provides an essential opportunity for people to express themselves in raw forms of creativity.
Lamia Abdulaziz Khan, 31, Emirati Title of work: ‘Power of Transformation’.
Can you explain the concept behind your idea? I decided to create a Japanese kimono with the skateboard as a belt that would mirror my thoughts. I painted the great wave off Kanagawa on one end of the belt, which signifies sadness, fear and trauma. On the other end I portrayed the positive aspect of life: the Japanese cherry blossom that represents happiness and the transitory phase in life.
What did the skateboard look like when it was first given to you? The skateboard featured cartoon drawings of a dog and a little boy [left], but the image had been worn away. In order to create a belt that would curve on the waist I had to cut the board into 25 pieces in different sizes. I also reduced the height of the board and made it curvier.
What materials did you use? For my kimono I used a hot pink crêpe silk, with thread embroidery for the cherry blossoms. I painted my skateboard with acrylic and gold paint. I also used bridal satin to hold the skateboard together.
Can you skate? I would love to learn, but I’m too scared!
Why do you think street culture, such as skateboarding, is so important to society? It’s very important to have this type of street culture in our city as it helps engage our youth in a healthy sports activity that keeps them active, focused and out of trouble.
Nazgul Nejmi, 31, Turkish Title of work: ‘Who says skateboarders can’t be trendy?’
Can you explain the concept behind your idea? I wanted to make something skateboarders could re-use, as usually there is an attachment between skateboarders and their boards. I wanted to make a cap or hat, together with some accessories to add a little style. When I first looked at the skateboard, the worn-out graffiti effect gave me a hip-hop feel.
What did the skateboard look like when it was first given to you? It was split into three pieces – the two edges and the main body. Together with the carpenter I cut one edge into circles and squares for the earrings, studs and ring. Then the main body was cut into four pieces for the main part of the cap, while the other edge of the skateboard was used as it was, for the peak of the cap.
What materials did you use? I used wood glue and screws to attach the four parts of the top of the cap, clip-ons for the earrings, a string of bling-bling for glamour, a ring, and a glue gun to stick them all together.
Can you skate? I used to, until I was 14. I’d go up and down slopes. I’m sure I still can… yeah, right! [Laughs] How do you think skateboarding and art are related? Skateboarding is free style and is all about self expression, just like art. Skateboarders are always on streets, so most of them get into street art as well, such as graffiti, for example. Most street sports are associated with street art. That’s just street culture. They all work together: the art, the sports and the music.
Sheikha Wafa Hasher Al Maktoum, Emirati Title of work: ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’. Can you explain the concept behind your idea? To recycle the skateboard and make it useful once again. It’s an artwork, and it is also a useable bench.
What did the skateboard look like when it was first given to you? It was snapped in two. I actually had to use two skateboards to make the legs of the bench. I didn’t deconstruct it, but I cleaned the sharp edges and evened them out to act as the legs for the bench.
What materials did you use? Wood, sandpaper, paint, screws and bolts.
How long did it take? A month of research, as I had many ideas. Once I’d decided what I wanted to make, it took a week to construct and paint it.
Can you skate? Yes, I can skate, but I can only go in one direction.
How do you think skateboarding and art are related? Skateboarding is a form of art. I wanted to bring this entire project together as well as uniting artists from all around the UAE. It’s similar to meeting random people at a skate park: getting to know new people, and discovering new talents.
The Lowdown Exhibition: ‘Fakie 2012’ until February 18 at Tashkeel, near Nad Al Sheba (04 336 3313). Artists include: Ella Orencillo, Kristy Anne Ligones, Lamia Abdulaziz Khan, Layan Attari, Maliha Naseem, Mark Ganzon, Maryam Abdulla Alzaabi, Rebecca Rendell, Wafa Hasher Al Maktoum. Price range of works: All priced at Dhs2,000.
Skate a sculpture! On February 17, skate fans are invited to come down to Tashkeel and participate in a social media experiment called Skate Biladi 2.0, in which spectators will be encouraged to take photos of people skating the Tashkeel ramp and upload them to Facebook. A scoreboard will display the uploaded pics, and the skater and the photographer with the most ‘likes’ will win an Apple prize pack. Also enjoy a free barbecue, a live DJ and entertainment by professional skaters. Free. 10am-10pm (peak time 4pm-6pm). Tashkeel, near Nad Al Sheba, www.tashkeel.org (04 336 3313).