Outside and In

Teenage Wasteland? Not in These Shows.

When the gallery is open, there are usually at least 10 skaters lining the rim of Free Basin, dropping one at a time into a free fall that gives way to a few seconds of controlled swoops. A sign warns, "All Skaters Must Wear Helmets," but most don't. The tremendous noise they make—an ominous rumbling like an elevated train, punctuated by the thwack of wheels and bodies hitting wood—is part of the show's visceral experience.

Scattered around the gallery is an uneven assortment of work from artists associated with the skateboard scene. There's an interesting wall of text-based collages from Daniel Joseph, who is also in K-48; a pornographic skateboard from Larry Clark of Kids fame; a great large painting from Barry McGee and a good small one from Chris Johanson. There are also numerous photos of sullen teens shredding, just to remind us what we're looking at, and lots of what amounts to contained graffiti from authentic street artists such as RoStarr and Doze. It all looks a bit contrived, like Martha Cooper's interactive tag wall, though the kids pausing on their way up to the bowl don't seem to mind.

Innocence and experience: the "Teenage Rebel" installation at John Connelly Presents
photo: Robin Holland
Innocence and experience: the "Teenage Rebel" installation at John Connelly Presents


Teenage RebelóThe Bedroom Show
John Connelly Presents
526 West 26th Street
Through February 1

Session the Bowl
Deitch Projects
18 Wooster Street
Through February 15

Playing the permissive parent, Deitch notes that there have been spontaneous parties in the gallery after hours, not to mention an opening extravaganza that was shut down by the police. With a recent show on the birth of hip-hop and another on Keith Haring just opened, he's riding the wave of old-school nostalgia. Skate culture is already so commercial, though, that any attempt to claim it as an "anti-establishment art community" is beside the point. According to a 2000 statistic from the National Sporting Goods Association, more American kids ages six to 17 skate than play baseball. The X Games, televised on major networks, draw millions of viewers. Still, the sight of all those skaters zipping around the basin like heated molecules is something special. In the end, it's their presence in the gallery, and Hug's in the bedroom, that make us want to stay and hang out for a while.

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