Meet the dark priests of the skate scene

This photographer immortalised the mysterious balaclava-clad, heavy metal-listening skate crew known as Barrier Kult

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BA. KU., Anthony Tafuro, book, Dazed
Photography Anthony Tafuro

If skateboarding is a religion then meet the dark priests of four-wheels. BA. KU. (short for Barrier Kult) is a balaclava-clad, heavy metal-listening skate crew hailing from Vancouver. Founded in 2003, the team have one direction: to hit the hardest surface possible, the jersey style barrier – something usually reserved for the sides of highways and roads. For them, it's an object of worship. “They only skate one of the hardest surfaces. They do this with a ritualistic approach which allows them to appreciate the surface over trying tricks on stairs or ramps,” says photographer Anthony Tafuro, who captured the group or his new book BA. KU.

After coming across BA. KU.'s videos on YouTube, Tafuro shadowed the crew's anonymous members, keen to immortalise their unique spirit. Although at first 'extremely skeptical' of his documentation, the group soon welcomed him and Tafuro produced a series of black and white images that provide a rare inside look at the gang. 

Never spotted without their signature balaclavas, the Tafuro explains the mystery behind them. “They identify individually, but never as their everyday pro skater names,” he explains. “They (used to) scratch their faces out of each video frame, but this was such a long and tedious process that they decided to adopt the balaclava.” Taking influence from heavy metal music, the team has grown to become an international entity, with their influence felt on skaters the world over. “Some people think they copy other teams,” he says, “when really they've been doing this longer. They were ready for the recognition they deserve – and I was so ready to help with that.”

BA. KU. is available now from PowerHouse Books. Check out Tafuro's website or follow him on Instagram for more

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