Allen Ying: Defying Authority
Illegal. One word that is inseparable from the culture of skateboarding. The sport itself represents an independent outlet for physical activity that shies away from the conventions of established sports. The environment that modern street skating takes place are the cities that many civic leaders try to protect by creating laws that prohibit skateboarders from skating public terrain. A skateboarding trick that is pulled off in the streets happens in a window of time that is never more than a handful of minutes – just short enough to avoid being kicked off a property before a security guard threatens to call the police.
A skater, in every aspect, is someone who is defying authority.
However, that line is getting blurred as the sport becomes increasingly commercialized. Mass skate photography often captures an absurdly hard trick in a spot that would only be open to a crew with a permit. In a sense, mass skate photography is often staged. While the trick itself is still happening, there is an aspect of authenticity that is lost. Before large sponsors began dipping their hands into the sport, it was much more difficult to have the resources to make a spot “skateable” long enough to pull off a difficult stunt. Thus “street” skate photography often gave you a glimpse into a story that went much deeper than the trick itself. It told the story of a group of friends who hustled into a forbidden spot, and did something they knew was illegal.
Allen Ying, a photographer based out of New York City and founder of 43 Skateboard Magazine, encapsulated this idea in a series of photos that explores how this “rebellious” DNA is slowly being lost as skateboarding continues to evolve. Encouraging the skateboarders in his images to do something that defies authority, Ying is capturing the stories that go behind the trick. And while he is not advocating bedlam through his work, Ying is encouraging us to remember, and maintain, the cultural DNA that made skateboarding so attractive to so many people.
Check out Ying’s photos below and go support his magazine by making a donation at the 43 Magazine site