Skate parks are paradoxical places: social enterprises often supported by local councils which still manage to attract, engage and win over even the most disaffected kids on two to four wheels.
Contemporary art can be this way. Projects with an ‘edge’ can still attract funding. You might even say that funders like a soupçon of youthful dissent along with their community minded fare.
Now artist and curator Ruth Angel Edwards is bringing together more than 20 fellow artists for a show at Flo skatepark, Nottingham. Whoever might fund Flo, this rad weekend will be lottery funded.
Can we say with any certainty that skateboarding is harmless? No, because it’s an activity in the vanguard of the debate about public and private space. If skating is banned, that’s private space.
It is hoped that some of the artists in Trace Programme already recognise the political challenge posed by skaters and will come to Nottingham ready to celebrate their anarchic energy.
But here’s another activity which struggles to find a legal place in the world: dance parties. Raves are even less popular than skating and are frowned upon from the East Midlands to the East Coast.
In 2015, creative think tank Communitas staged a rave in a domestic setting in NYC with a respectable dinner party as its legal front, with repetitive eats as an alibi for repetitive beats.
For another strand of this subcultural weekend, artist Frank J. Miles, is recreating his New York event at Nottingham’s artist-led studios Backlit. You bring the booze. Mixmag will bring the soundtrack.
Rave dinner parties bring enough baggage to qualify as compelling pieces of art. They bring in social practice, performance art, dance culture, drug culture, and even (techno) shamanism.
Art historical reference points include Judy Chicago’s all-female Dinner Party and, just perhaps, The Last Supper by Leonardo. Neither turned into a rave, but both had an agenda just as strong.