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Julian Klincewicz's ЖУРНАЛ
Julian Klincewicz

Exclusive photos of Gosha Rubchinskiy’s Russian skate gang

Cali artist Julian Klincewicz found himself in the designer’s inner circle when he visited Russia in 2015 – here he shares an exclusive look at a new book documenting his time there

Californian artist Julian Klincewicz has been on the radar lately: he collaborated with Gosha Rubchinskiy and documented Yeezy Season 3 for Kanye, had two solo shows and directed a handful of short films. Hailing from the new generation of creatives who effortlessly switch genres and techniques, and his lo-fi aesthetics, raw VHS videos and an eye for detail paired with a taste for freedom borrowed from his experience of skateboarding has brought him recognition on both sides of the Atlantic. His new book ЖУРНАЛ (JOURNAL), exclusively previewed by Dazed, is a diary of Klincewicz’s trip to Russia and friendship with Rubchinskiy and the designer/photographer’s skater crew.  

“Originally, I met Gosha through Instagram. I’d been familiar with his photography for a little bit, and felt really inspired and connected to what he was doing in fashion, so we started talking about working together on something,” Klincewicz remembers. “We made the backstage video together for his AW15 show in Paris, and after it came out, started talking about doing something for his Vans collaboration shoe. For me, it was always a dream to get to visit Russia, and skateboarding has such a good energy in Russia right now.” The lo-fi video they created together captured skating on Russian streets hinting that skateboarding is still something universal for youth all over the world, regardless of political circumstances.

While in Russia, Klincewicz had a chance to embrace the local scene. “Skating in Russia is amazing! I know I keep using the word ‘energy’, but there really is a good mood and atmosphere around skating in Russia, compared to San Diego or LA,” he says. “It feels really honest – at least with all the people I was skating with, like Tolya Titaev. The same way it does when you first start skating and it’s all you want to do.”

“For me, it was always a dream to get to visit Russia, and skateboarding has such a good energy in Russia right now” – Julian Klincewicz

In his visual diaries from Russia, initially put together into ЖУРНАЛ, Klincewicz focused on strange close-up details and cinematic settings around him. He was fascinated by the unusual aesthetics and language. “The first thing that really sort of struck me – and this was before even landing in Moscow – was just the guy across the aisle from me reading a Russian paper and just the density of the Cyrillic letters on the page. It was really beautiful, so I started trying to learn how to read the letters a little bit. And I really liked the Metro system – it feels somehow super (like) what I’d imagined Russia might feel a bit like. Like how fast the doors close, and how loud the trains are – it gives off this sense of finality and strength.”

He also came across a few bizarre references to the American culture which illustrated Russia’s love/hate relationship with its former Cold War opponent.“Once I was actually in Moscow and we left the airport, I was really hungry, so we ended up stopping at a McDonald’s, which was just really surprising. In the parking lot there was this car with the hood painted super crazy that Gosha pointed out to me, and I totally didn’t get it at first, but looking closer it was a bunch of tanks bombing the Statue of Liberty with the sickle and hammer burned into the sky from the explosions of taking down the US. That was pretty striking,” he says.

ЖУРНАЛ is the first of the series of Klincewicz’s travel books, the next one – DAGBÓK – is planned for Iceland, with long term plans of doing one on Japan and Poland. The design of the book also matters: its size is only 2.75”x4”, almost the same as a phone which refers to our habit of unprecedented access to other worlds through social media. It’s a perfect format for the new generation of drifters, a unique experience packed into a precious object. He says: “I look at these books as a document of my own experience, as being invited to be a part of something new, someplace new, something wholly foreign and completely familiar, something outside of myself.”

The book is set to release in collaboration with Vans Vault in an edition of 300, Thursay April 28th at Union Los Angeles, and will be available Friday April 29th at select retailers