22/08/2013 | by Arthur Derrien
Photos by Sergej Vutuc:
Open Gallery16 Images
Words by Kristian Smok, speaking on the behalf of the locals.
With the Students’ centre pool sculpture being built, we’ve been introduced to a whole new way of riding a skateboard, a new skateboarding style which, until then, we were only able to see on tape. It came at a point when as skateboarders, we were depressed by not being properly understood and listened to. We didn’t have anything. We had been skating the streets for the past 10 years and every now and skateparks were being demolished faster than they were built. We didn’t have nearly as much room for creativity and progression as we needed to. A lot of us gave up on skateboarding.
The “Art of Asfalt” project had brought us something new; a new perspective on skateboarding and creativity. We started thinking differently and building our personal and unique style, so after the two-year hiatus, the dream that we had was no longer asleep.
In 2008., European rippers from Vans and Carhartt came to Zagreb and motivated us even more to continue on living the dream. We couldn’t believe our eyes: just being here and admiring the way they were skateboarding on our sculpture, even the mere fact that the guys considered it appealing enough to throw down a session or two. The same guys which we’ve been looking up to since we were kids, watching them exclusively on VHS tapes, were now skating here with us. They would leave with nothing but compliments and they’d spread the word, so things just started getting bigger and our sculpture was reaching worldwide popularity.
Year after year, more and more people were coming from all over the country and also from abroad. We started getting better, so we started publishing our own photos and video clips over the internet. Each year since our sculpture was built, we’ve had a solid program running: from contests, outdoor exhibitions and concerts, to the point of creating the first skateboarding movie festival from this area. We’ve created a completely new and urban skateboarding culture in our country.
In 2010. the Thrasher team visited Zagreb, with some of the guys in their team being amongst the top 5 skateboarders on the planet. Again, it was a dream come true. We’re standing here with our heroes. Thrasher magazine, which was founded in 1981., publishes a nine-page article about their roadtrip throughout Croatia, and our sculpture in the Students centre earns a new nickname: ìBurnside of the Balkansî.
Accordingly, the number of tourists that come to Zagreb and visit the sculpture grows exponentially each year. This year, in April, the guys from Thrasher came once more, shooting for their film in Zagreb and other cities all over Croatia, they shot cover photo in Split for the magazine.
So, in the times when we are getting worldwide recognition and are being drawn into the world culture and skateboarding map, a resolution was brought by the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning to put down the pool sculpture. Fighting that decision, this is the third day that we’re defending it (designed by Sergej Vutuc, built by our own hands) with our bodies. We’ve succeeded so far, and we have yet to see what’ll happen during the next days. Also, we have no intention of stepping away from the sculpture. Not until an adequate answer is proposed. Like the skateboarding subculture, our sculpture is something that WE have to save. Because of its significance, which is universal, our country is on the world map!