Rampenlicht – Berlin. Street Culture and Skateboarding
Today, there is a major part of society that acknowledges skateboarding as a sport, yet there are still many who are not familiar with the word and the idea behind it.
Even though outsiders can easily recognize the appearance of a skateboarder, it is difficult to fully understand the movement as a whole since it seems to be somewhat of a closed off culture.
Typically consisting of specific behavior, clothing and the unavoidable noise, a neutral opinion, or even disinterest in skate culture is understandable.
In addition to the fact that skateboarding is a complex sequence of movements, what is also fascinating is the skater’s unique translation of architecture, however many of these artistic elements, especially including creativity and aesthetics, are not commonly recognized. Still, the few that do proceed to take their boards, cruise around, learn the first tricks, go to the closest skate park, check out the ramps and create ways to use them, hit the streets, and search for materials and geometric forms creating their own imaginary skate park.
An urban art that stems from surfers in the 60s looking for a way to ply the waves inland by attaching skate wheels to a piece of wood hence the beginning of ‘Sidewalk Surfing’ and the skating of empty swimming pools. A new spirit was born that evolved to a whole new level of surfing in the streets. Now where has this spirit gone?
As skate culture advanced, it changed with the rise of modern society and created a conflict between the existential spirit from the past and the prospering of the skateboard industry.
In search of a balance between these two extremes, we are returning to the empty swimming pool.
From the water, to the pool, to the street, now back to the pool, this time modifying it with a triangular ramp normally only found in the streets.
The project will be a transformation process, altering the original purpose of both structures.
Within the exhibition at Stattbad Wedding, skateboarding should be experienced in its purest form, separated as far as possible from its contemporary influences.
The ramp is now being extracted from its natural environment, and becomes an artifact one would typically find in a museum.
The experience requires an innocent involvement with a subculture, which is still very young, yet seemingly fully developed.
Striving for an open perception.
Resisting socialized behavior.
Rampenlicht (German ‘Spotlight’, but also a combination of the words “ramp” and “light”) is an art project conceived and financed by a group of young students and artists residing in Berlin. Everyone participating in this group exhibition will get the chance to experience their own creativity without selling out or pursuing any another purpose to their art but expression and development. For this reason, the young collective 3eck, (German ‘Triangle’) developed a concept in cooperation with urban arts gallery Stattbad Wedding, which will be briefly introduced in the following.
The name of the project “Rampenlicht” stands for a nine-week happening, which can be divided into two parts:
A three week “construction and preparation phase” where all the participants work side by side to install the exhibition, followed by a six-week phase during which the results of the work will be open to the public and a comprehensive program will fill the exhibition with life.
The first phase of the project begins with the construction of the focal piece: a triangular skateboard ramp, which will be extracted from its ‘natural’ environment and modified to serve a different purpose than originally intended. It will be a symbol of harmony within the collective, and at the same time a symbol of disharmony within today’s society. It is representative of the main topic of the exhibition and will therefore be the central point of the happenings.Around this piece of carpentry, the collective will create an atmosphere that opposes a dystopian, exaggerated reality with a surreal dreamlike utopia. Various forms of contemporary art, such as painting, videography, photography, sculpture, installation, etc., will be used to reach this goal.
The second phase of the project embarks with the opening of the exhibition on January 21, 2012. From this day on, the exhibition will be open to visitors who can follow a path of exhibits to understand the thoughts and theories of the artists and delve into the imaginary world of the collective. Spiraling through all the gallery rooms, the visitor is guided towards the extensive hall, and finally to the ramp.
Aside from its symbolism, it is also an object to be experienced. It invites the visitor to interact. Everyone can touch the ramp, step onto the ramp, and discover the ramp.
The ramp will also be used as a stage for musicians and authors, performance artists, as well as comedians and actors during the 6-week exhibition period.
The intention of the project is to uncover something new in everyone participating, whether artist or visitor, it is supposed to get you thinking – without any expectations.
The project is entirely financed by the collective; no sponsors, no affiliates, no outside funding.
“Why?”, is the question that comes to mind when one is confronted with such a statement, and there are many reasons in response:
The chance to be able to realize a project in the way of ones own liking, without the limitations and restrictions that come from a third party.
The liberty of not being forced to ask for help or permission.
To experience the actual value of the cause itself.
The devotion to learn, and to not expect anything in return for efforts made.
To remain true to ones self, and exemplify what many seem to have forgotten.
When you are confident and ready to strive for what you want and overcome your limitations, you’ll accomplish things you never dared to dream of. Rampenlicht.
Article by Tim Herten
Illustration by Amy Centner
The making of Rampenlicht’s 3er.
This is how it all started: