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SKATEBOARD CITY - NEW exhibition in Nieuw-West

Updated: May 11, 2023

Skateboarding is an urban sport which was born in the 60s in California, but it was not until the early 1970s that the first skateboarders started shredding in the Netherlands.

Collection of Skateboards from Amsterdam

As time went by, cities started to create skate parks, competitions were held, and the most talented skateboarders became well known. But what the ex-professional skateboarder, Mark van der Eng, specified, is that in the early 90s there has been a switch from halfpipes to mini-ramps and street skating.

Mark van der Eng was a professional vert skater in the late eighties with a pro model at the British brand Death box. He still skates and thinks that 'Skateboard City' exhibition is important because it tells people something about the origins of skateboarding in the Netherlands. Specific places and people are also highlighted that were important for the development of skateboarding in our country. For this exhibition, Mark has supplied a lot of photo material (Uitgeest, Bickers Island, Zandvoort, Amsterdam Bridge, Museum Square, Dallas) and 2 boards.

My very first board and my first pro model when I rode for Death box. I also explained a lot to the curators about the application of materials and the history of skating in the Netherlands with which they could help build their exhibition.

Skateboarding has evolved from a creative urban activity with a legendary past meshed with subcultural values into an Olympic sport. But, the deviant subcultural images of skateboarding derived from dirty and dark urban spaces, coloured and illuminated by graffiti artists. Moreover, the perception of damage to property and risk-taking in public places, saw it as a near criminal activity with sensational stunts.

Skateboarding is an expression of freedom and movement, and it puts emphasis on creativity and individualism, which appeals to many young athletes. It is about balance, and it is also about how you hold yourself in a collective subculture within local community: it is a type of philosophy of the everyday.

Nowadays you see a lot of commercials on TV that are shot at a skating place. Why? Because it is hip and is still seen as a new sport in the Netherlands, even though it has been here for 45 years.
A big difference with the past is that it is now seen as a mainstream sport and is even in Olympic. Where Vans shoes used to only be found at Rodolfo's (the first skate shop in the Netherlands), now everyone and their mother wears the black Vans hi top with the white stripe. It used to say "world's first skateboard shoe" on the underside of the tongue. Not anymore today.

It used to be a select handful of people who did it. The halfpipe was also very popular in the past, in the early nineties you see a switch from halfpipes to mini-ramps and street skating. Mini-ramps were a lot lower than half pipes and therefore not as intimidating, so many more people dared to do this.

Street skating doesn't really need any explanation, you walk out the door and there is the street. sidewalks, edges and elevations can be found everywhere on the street.
I dare to say that 99% of skaters are street skaters, while in the past (1976-1990) you only had halfpipe skaters and freestylers.

Reflects Mark van der Eng

What is interesting is the fact that while the sport first appeared, an underground movement called Hip-Hop was brewing in New York and it entered the Netherlands in the 80s. And there is a connection between skateboarding, hip hop and graffiti in Amsterdam. In fact, in this city, which has a rich street art scene, graffiti plays an important role. Moreover, many of these activities are closely connected to music, as hip hop and few sport disciplines, as skating. Skateboarding and hip hop were both born on the streets, and both are masters in rhythm and flow.

On the 7th May 2023, in a light and spacious local museum, which is located in Amsterdam Nieuw-West, and which specialises in a legacy of Dutch architect Van Eesteren opened a NEW exciting exhibition, called “Skateboard City”, which will last until 9th July 2023.

“Skateboarding City” is a large-scale exhibition about skateboarding culture in relation to the city. The central idea of the exhibition is that the city is a big playground for a skateboarder, who see walls and fences as a challenge and not as an obstacle. What is fascinating and interesting about this exhibition is that, as Mark van der Eng said, “Skateboard City is important because it tells people something about the origins of skateboarding in the Netherlands”. In addition, this exhibition shows an original archive material from skateboarders from Amsterdam (such as, photos, music, films), it also shows a skateboard ramp!! For example, Mark supplied lots of photo material and two boards. Moreover, it is displayed the relationship between this discipline and architecture, highlighted in various design projects.

Van Eesteren Museum is dedicated to the celebrated Dutch architect and urban planner Cornelis van Eesteren, best known for his work on the General Expansion Plan for Amsterdam and for his role as the chairman of the International Congress for Modern Architecture (CIAM) from 1930 to 1947.

SAMA team attended the opening, took some photos and met amazing witnesses of time, such as Robby Buttner and Mark van der Eng, in person.

So, do not lose this opportunity, and go to this attractive experience!! It is FREE!

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