DIY / Underground Skateparks.
Photographs by Richard Gilligan.
Prestel, Lakewood, 2014. 160 pp., 60 color illustrations, 11x9½".
A skateboarding book like no other, this collection of stunning color photographs from around the world reveals an authentic, unsentimental view of an often over-glamorized subculture.
The Irish photographer and skateboarder Richard Gilligan spent four years traveling through Europe and the US to photograph homemade skateparks. The resulting photographs are not your run-of-the-mill action shots filled with miraculous body moves, slashes, twists, and turns. Instead, Gilligan chooses to focus on the sport’s “negative space”: the out-of-the-way concrete embankments, nondescript suburban lots where kids come to practice, a simple wooden ramp so insubstantial that no one but a skateboarder would recognize its use. Many of these photographs can be appreciated as unique, if prosaic, landscapes, but Gilligan also populates his pictures with skaters at rest, smoking alone, hanging out together, or walking home, board in hand. The images offer a grittily beautiful tribute to the ineffable hunger that unites all skateboarders—young, old, rich, poor. In these photographs Gilligan realizes the act of skating represents more than a quest for glory, but a means of self-expression.