Geometry of Motion: Raphaël Zarka and skateable sculptures

Last weekend the BPS22 Musée d’art de la Province de Haunaut in Charleroi, Belgium opened up Raphaël Zarka’s exhibition Riding Modern Art. The exhibition consists of skateable sculptures and photos of various photographers capturing skateboarders skating on different sculptures all over the world, as well as few videos and maquettes of sculptures.

I missed the opening night to see how skateboarders rode on those scuptures. That’s a shame as one of the  Zarka’s ideas behind the sculptures is, how skateboarders ‘shape’ space in a way which can be seen similar of how sculptor works. At the moment when I visited the museum, on a day following the opening, dude and I were the only visitors. I knew already it would be way out of my skills ever to be able to even just ride down any of these sculptures. Nevertheless, I took a board with me, as  I thought it would be re-freshing to experience an art show from different points of view: from the board.



Raphaël Zarka (b.1977) is a French artist who in his practise has been combining art and skateboarding in a different medium: he has written skateboarding encyclopedia On a Day With no Waves, A Cronicle of Skateboarding 1779-2009 and an essay form book Free Ride. Skateboard, mécanique galiéenne et formes simples, in which he looks at how skate obstacles and sculptures share similarities; he has curated a photo series Riding Modern Art collecting together skate photograhps of (well known) sculptures all over the world whilst skaters are skating on them.

In BPS22 exhibited are skateable objects which with their shape and form are close of minimalist sculptures. According to Zarka minimalism (an art style having it’s peak times in 1960’s and early 70’s, characterized by an abstract (often basic) forms, and the potentiality of material itself) is close of the logic of skateboarding: minimalism cares about space and experience. In minimalism sculptures are not only meant to be looked at with your eyes, but to experience with the whole body.  (look more: Works seen in Charleroi are based on his interest of 19th century mathematician Arthur Moritz Schoenflies, and his three dimensional models. Zarka reconstructed them, and not just to be ‘passive’ forms, but to find out how those shapes would work for skateboarding.

The following video introducing Zarka’s spatial thinking and its connection to skateboarding is also screened in BPS22.



Before this exhibition Zarka was familiar name for me through his publications. After experiencing an atypical indoor skate park inside of the museum I am convinced of to spend more time with my germinating idea of how I could use skateboarding as a part of my practise – if I have not yet mentioned this, yours sincerely Crazy Skate Lady is an artist-researcher by profession.




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