Have Skateboard - Will Travel
Two events in the space of a year made me very cynical about tourism. At eighteen I went abroad for the very first time and visited New York. Stood at the foot of the Statue of Liberty I felt completely bemused by how un-eventful and insignificant this iconic spot actually was. Several months later I was introduced to John Urry’s ‘The Tourist Gaze’ at University. I surrendered my aspirations to visit Angkor Wat and countless other destinations.
What I have tried to do since is to as often, and as much as possible, always take my board with me. This transforms the experience of visiting new places and opens up a completely uncharted realm of how you can actually interact with those around you.
This video provides some insight to the rich experiences of travelling with a board and to skateboard diplomacy. Jonathan Mehring shares some of his exquisite photos and anecdotes of his numerous travels. A self evident fact is that whilst you may not be able to speak the language of the country you are visiting, you can still connect with people through skateboarding.
There is however something that is a little peculiar in the documentation of skateboarding in far off lands. It is quite bluntly, exotica. The juxtaposition of a skater in mid-air with minarets in the background is distinct. Why should it be so? But if the truth be told it is that same jarring composition of the skateboard in urban environs that makes skateboard photography so compelling. It reminds us that places have untapped potential, they can be harnessed, used and performed with in ways that dramatically extend their everyday purposes or design intent.