To Catch A Thief


REVOLVING DOORS: An Exhibition in Memory of Blair Trethowan
February 9 - March 20, 2008
Uplands Gallery Studio 2 & 3 249251 Chapel Street
Prahran Victoria 3181 Australia

Names change, places change and people change. A wireless isn't a reference to a radio anymore, a name change to Seddon can alleviate part of Footscray's drug problems and Flowers can rebrand itself to Icehouse and sell millions of albums. Locations can have affectionate names placed upon them that allows for them to become sites of ritual or gathering . The Black Arch or Shaggers Corner in Braybrook don't actually exist on paper, yet are as definable by the locals as the Whitten Oval or Ballarat Road. The Docklands Stadium has gone through so many name changes I couldn't even take a punt as to what it's name is today. For most parts change can be a healthy thing. Melbourne has changed for the better and skateboarding has forever evolved and adapted with it and the times. Skateboarding was illegal in the Nineties - a change in the local bylaw made it possible for a whole generation to become accepted as cultural innovators.

In skateboarding there is a code of ethics when it comes to naming or renaming tricks. Usually people start skating when they are going through puberty as a way of letting off steam and to get some use out of all that new found energy that's popped out of nowhere. Skating can also assist in the development of important life skills predominantly those of identity and identification within a group. The way to differentiate oneself from others in the skate gangs are usually through two means. Firstly it's the dress sense. You can get away with being a flannelette, baseball cap wearing youth or go the way of Rock or Punk. Fluoro was cool, so was plain white Bonds T-shirt and camel chinos. Each is a means of self representation, yet the defining element of a skateboarder's expression must be the tricks they have up their sleeves.

It's cool to learn skate tricks as a group and all master them (or get them down pat as the expression goes). Ultimately though, each skater will pin the trick down and elaborate on a core few which they will perform everywhere as often as possible. These tricks become 'theirs'. It breaks the code to do someone's trick in the next run after them. You can't ghost, bite or shadow the last line of tricks. A copycat will be revealed for the charlatan they are by the rest of the crew at a park or skate spot immediately - especially if they are not a friend of the said party instigating the manoeuvre. The code is strong and has sustained itself through fashion and commercialisation all these years. Just like in contemporary art, if you state that you are the first to do something, there will always be another who can claim precedence. Although differentiating itself from art, skateboarding (as well as surfing, blading, freestyle and gymnastics to list a few) all give the honour of naming rights to the one who patents it through repetition and admiration

Blair was one of those guys who had his own trick. It was named a Blairial by the rest of his crew. He called it a Shuvit Ching Chink being the modest fellow he was, yet for us it will be forever dedicated to him. Every backyard mini or suburban ramp comp we went to out would come the Blairial. I don't know anyone else who's done one or even thought of doing one, it's that out of left field. I never attempted one until this video. Keeping true to the medium I shot it at sunset with a VHS camera made in 1992. The year I remember him doing them. So what does the code say about learning your best friends trademarked moves after he is gone?

Nothing.

I can only assume it's respectful and for those who were with us in 1992 a tear would form in their eyes in remembrance. For those who weren't and think it's a new trick invented by me...you had to be there to see it done properly. A Blairial.