Alex Olson’s RED released over the summer. His debut book consists of a series of photographs of shopping carts captured in Los Angeles in 2012. Dan Colen delves into the inspiration behind the work, and draws parallels with Olson between photography and skateboarding in a highly philosophical piece published by Interview Magazine earlier this week.
COLEN: That reminds me—when I first looked at these pictures, I thought of skating. Skaters have always used the city as a home. That’s what we do when we start skating; we move into the city. The landscape changes immediately—it starts feeling like our personal thing: we see new uses in everything. We don’t ask for permission, we just take. We take public spaces and make them private, we take private spaces and make them public. Skateboarding is about finding a use for the nonfunctional, innovating when something stops working—activating things which are unfinished, finding beauty and meaning in things no one else would. Do you think this attracted you to the craftsmen behind the carts? Do you think your interest in wabi-sabi came out of skateboarding?
OLSON: I’m glad you can recognize that in skateboarding. I feel like that part of skateboarding doesn’t get enough appreciation of having a completely different scope on landscapes. It’s hard for me to say where my appreciation comes from in terms of wabi-sabi—most definitely, it borrows from skateboarding. I think the most magnifying part is the craftsmanship. The way things are stacked and put together, taken away, and then re-introduced in another form makes it so interesting. To me, it feels like a grown amoeba.
In terms of Saturday morning reading, it doesn’t get much better.