No Comply exhibition, skate culture and community

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Skateboarding is more than just a sport, it’s a complete aesthetic of its own.

Fashioned once by an underground community, it’s now popularized and part of the mainstream. The exhibition „No Comply“ at Somerset House in London explores the skateboard subculture and how it has changed.

Skateboarders have shaped the urban landscape ever since its emergence in the 70s. Wether we were obsessed with finger skates as a child or went to hang out at the skatepark with the intention of becoming part of the local cool gang, skateboard culture has always been part of the youth and influenced many. Although the practice was primarily an underground sport at the beginning, it has now been popularized and pushed into the mainstream by the likes of Trasher Magazine and brands such as Palomino or Palace. Most people have never stood on a skateboard in their Vans, but still wear them daily. Lockdown gave a new impulse to skateboarding, as outdoor-activities were more than needed to escape the loneliness of isolation. And the bounding feeling of community strongly present within skate culture became even stronger than before.

 

Helena Long, Stockwell © Rich West

Aimée Gillingwater, No Comply, Southbank, 2018 © Jenna Selby

Sports are not everyone’s cup of tea, but skateboarding is above all an aesthetic, which widely influenced the fashion of the 90s and is still broadly employed by our favourite designers and seen on the runways worldwide. Your local skater boys and girls are now all over the magazines with their characteristic oversized, baggy style. Through the work of leading photographers, designers and filmmakers, „No Comply“ exhibition in London’s Somerset House celebrates the country’s vibrant and diverse skateboarding scene, documenting the transformative influence the subculture has played in shaping people, cities and culture in the UK, and beyond.
The exhibition puts the accent on the community feeling surrounding this sport and its inclusivity regarding women and LGBTQ+ in sports, ever since the very beginning of its popularization – quite impressive to say the least.

XEM Skaters Issue #2, ‘Recipe for Ur Sk8 Nite’. Courtesy of XEM Skaters

A whole room of the exhibition is orientated towards the style phenomena influenced by skateboards, featuring a vintage collection of Palace pieces, as well as some upcoming designers, such as the label Loutre. Created in 2018 by Pia Schiele, the brand has a modern view on skating apparels using up-cycled material such as blankets or vintage lace, always with the cool skater flare.
The exhibition is free for entrance and runs until September 19th at the Somerset House.

Text by Marien Brandon

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