A while back I wrote a blog on Aesthetics of Dust, inspired by the works of Filippo Minelli and Ujin Lee + Tom Edwards. Both projects played with the means of dust floating in mid-air. The short existence of a dust cloud captured in a series of photographs. The artist(s) purposefully played with the means of dust, one (Minelli’s Silence/Shapes) introducing brightly color bombs in nature, the other (Lee+Edwards I Came Across Dust) featuring a white smoky substance in empty urban landscapes. The way both projects have been documented suggest that they just happen to find the authentic moment in the world. This silent creature coming into existence for a mere moment before it becomes part of the invisible atmosphere again.
Now I would like to note an Aesthetics of Dust in another form, namely the Skateboard Video Art.
A medium that has been used to display the abilities of skaters taking on the play with dust.
The Holi festival is widely known for the fact that the participants, in this religious springtime event, bombard each other with scented brightly colored powder and perfume. The Holi festival is attributed to many mythologies (the legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakashipu and the legend of Radha and Krishna to name two such associated myths) whose moral is related to the power of truth. The festival takes place in the spring when nature awakes from the slumber of winter and the world turns alive and green again.
The very notion of festivals and feast, as has been noted by philosophers such as Georges Bataille, Mikhail Bakhtin and Jean Baudrillard, is as a moment of release from the strict regimented day to day. This moment of organized chaos in which social roles are reversed or temporarily subverted, such as occurs in the – originally Catholic - tradition of carnival. Things that under normal circumstance wouldn’t be permitted are now allowed, such as the mocking of authority figures and bombarding other people with confetti or brightly colored powder.
The SALAZAR project Wizard Smoke from 2009, directed by Liam Mitchell, featuring the skaters Bradley Sheppard, Alien, Nate Lacoste, Chris Connolly, Nate Roline, Stacy Gabriel, Desmond Hoostie, Mike Klinkhamer, and Rob Rickaby. Is the other directly noted inspiration for the Topheadz War Paint, Berlin serie.
Both Wizard Smoke and War Paint, Berlin feature skaters playing around with the brightly colored dust. As the joyous dust particles settle on the urban – heavily tagged – landscape the subjects look back into the lens of the sterile clean viewer. Covered in patches of blue, pink and purple with the evidence of tears trying to expel lost dust that had come into his eyes. This particular skater looks at us with a melancholic smile.
The feast is over and the temporary state of anarchy ceases to exist. The acts of subversion and transgression return their place within the taboo. Brightly colored violence is no longer permitted. The dust settles on Berlin as the sun goes down and these boys take a long shower.