Dazed Digital


Guest Editor: Diya Ajit

January 12, 2012

This week, the award-winning artist and guest columnist discusses Dubai's skateable art experiment

  • Text by Kate Hazell

Guest Feature by Diya Ajit

In a serene garden tucked away in Nad Al Sheba a gargantuan wooden sculpture is rapidly rising up through the sleepy trees. Dubbed the "Arabic Chin" ramp, the skateable structure spells the arabic word for art: "Tashkeel", which is also the name of the host venue. 

The varied architectural features of Dubai make it a world-class skater destination: Dubai Municipality even creates special asphalt areas for skaters and a 16-year-old halfpipe installed in Al Mamzar Park at the request of local skaters appeared in the skating magazine Thrasher's list of "Places to Skate Before You Die". Several skateparks already exist in the city but skaters are constantly looking for new challenges and Arabic Interpreted presents the unique format of a world-class ramp with an intrinsically Arab soul.

Skateboarding is an art form and a skater, an artist. An amalgamation of mind, body, spirit and surface is expressed through poetic interactions between an obstacle and a skater. But most skateparks built today don't echo the artistry that skaters produce. Bradley Kirr and a team of European concrete artists saw a unique opportunity: to create a skatepark that embodies the artistic spirit of skateboarding. And to use an intrinsically regional media to do so.

Studying the forms of Arabic lettering they found distinct characteristics which could be interpreted into a skateable structure. After many iterations they arrived at a series of obstacles that maintained the integrity of the Arabic characters. Embellished by UK based artist Amartey Golding and flanked by walls featuring work by Mohammed Ali of Aerosol Arabic, the skate utopia features an art piece hubba, eurogap, stair set, rainbow rail channel, miniramp section and a single 2 storey vert wall. Not that I know what any of that means.

But for the local skateboarding community it is a stoke-inducing accomplishment. The megaramp has attracted the attention of film-maker Edu Muñoz of the DC Embassy skate collective in Spain and international skateboarding pros Steve Nesser and Tyler Hendley are set to skate the sculpture.

Harsh summer conditions in Dubai mean the ramp will only survive for a month. Working into the wee hours, the team of 10 builders are hopeful that the success of the project will lead to creating a more permanent structure someday. Suggestions for upkeep of the current structure have included treating the installation as an ongoing community art project where members contribute to maintenance and artistry to make the ramp a living, breathing extension of the local skate community.

Coinciding with the second installation of the Fakie skateboard deck art exhibition, the Arabic Interpreted event promises to be a skateboarding, art, music and bbq mashup to remember.

Arabic Interpreted + Fakie Dexhibition at Tashkeel on January 19

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