Welcome into the world of Stefan Marx, and welcome to Berlin. By pressing play on the video above you will experience a part of this city’s skate scene. Both outdoor and indoor. We have tried to create a project together with Stefan Marx & Vans, inside of the Skatehalle Berlin that represents the skatescene of the city we live in. So please take your time to watch not only the video piece but afterwards read through the text and enjoy the thought process behind a project like this.
Drawings by Stefan Marx.
Film & Edit by Peter Buikema.
Music by Julian Ruhe.
Text by Roland Hoogwater.
Supported by Vans.
The importance of the Skatehalle Berlin.
We don’t think it comes as a surprise to many of you that the Skatehalle Berlin (SHB) is dear to us all. It has gone through many changes from being a wooden hotspot where Dennis Busenitz killed the park, to a street league type of setup including a vert ramp and the bowl and transition section and finally into its current very fun configuration.
It is located at what some would call the heart of skateboarding in Berlin – the RAW gelände in F’hain often visited by tourists. The strong connection to the Cassiopea (nightclub) means that many young skaters growing up in Berlin might not only land their first kickflip at the park but they might go out for the first time, have a beer and maybe meet his, her, their, first love interest… Skate couples are a thing!
The Friedrichshain area itself is also home to the famous Bänke, Dogshit spot (DIY), and the Frankfurter tor just to name a few famous spots. Now the city might not be as centralized as many other cities are because of its history…The Wall and all. But as far as skateboarding goes, both looking in and from the outside for people coming into the city it is a cornerstone of skateboarding in Berlin.
With the risk of exposing my age, I will tell you a part of my backstory. When I was young, around 14-15 there were maybe 4 girls skating in my local skatepark. They all ripped but when you imagine the park being filled with about 50 young men you see the percentages were a bit off. But in recent times we have been lucky enough as skateboarders worldwide to see both growth and an influx of people from all walks of life. It is important to note that the connections you make in places like the SHB can shape you and help you grow into the adult you want to be. I, myself, for instance, would not be writing this text here if it wasn’t for my local park.
I don’t want to get too personal, but one of my friends came out as gay at the park, and he was the first openly gay person in my close inner circle. We spent many years skating together in a building that for some of us was like a home away from home. I also got introduced to Graffity, art, music (concerts), community work, and many other things.
Most of us start skating around 10-12 years of age and for a lot of us, it is a passion that we keep up well into our thirties and some way beyond that age. So whereas you might not think about skating in a building during summer you sure as hell long for that place during the colder months. Which in Berlin is up to 4 months a year so that is around about 88 months of my life spent in an indoor skatepark, not a small amount to say the least.
Now for many skaters reading this (depending on your age), that might be self-evident, you are living it, like I did. But I think for the many families bringing their children to a place like the Skatehalle Berlin, it is encouraging to know that their child has a safe place to grow and evolve in. You see the diverse group of people working the counter, you know that they are there to keep an eye out and call if necessary. And as a skater you share talks and experiences with the people that work there, you might become friends, or you might even end up doing an internship there at some point. If your child gets bitten by the skateboard bug, these people might see your child just as often as you do, so value them!
If you are a skater reading this you might say “sentimental bullshit” but we wrote all that to say this, first of all, we are happy to have a place like the Skatehalle Berlin, secondly, as skaters in Berlin, it takes up important space in our lives. And as such, the SHB is truly a cultural hub for the Berlin skate scene.
FUBU (For Us By Us)
Earlier this year we got a call from the artist and “friend of the mag” Stefan Marx, he had been asked by Vans and the SHB to do a project on the walls of the skatehalle. The question they had was “Can you create multiple murals for us?” Stefan pondered the question and he got us involved. We talked briefly and decided it would be best to go to the SHB and check out the space, talk to the people there & feel out the vibe. It was a beautiful sunny day, we took some measurements and headed out together to have a beer. “I don’t want to just put some random drawings in the space.” was one of the first things Stefan said, “What if we do the same thing we did in Tunis? We get a group of skaters together and we see what there is to draw?” It sounded like a plan, but now we had to form a squad…
One forgets as time goes on how the skate scene is a rather complex breathing organism. Living in any city, people come and people go but in Europe’s biggest city, Berlin, this can lead to a diverse group of skateboard characters. Some from Berlin, some German, European, Non-European this cities skate scene offers it all. And as such, it was clear the drawings in the skatehalle had to reflect the diversity of the people that would be using the space.
Do It Yourself
DIY has always been a strong suit, so we wanted to not only get a crew together that could add not only with skate tricks but also with music, personality, and much more. Berlin would be represented by Paul Röhrs, Germany by Julian Ruhe, Europe by Macedonia’s own Andrey Yanevski and Chile’s very own Carolina Gamboa topped it off. In the end, we got lucky and Jan Winkens DIY builder extraordinaire and one of the most fun to watch skaters in Berlin/Potsdam happened to be at Dogshit and joined in as well. Thank you, Jan!
An eye for an eye.
Let me explain something to you, when we did the Stefan Marx Issue of Place, many people thought we had a photographer with us who took pictures of the tricks or he used screen grabs to render the tricks. In reality, this is all live drawing. Picture those drawing classes (you might have seen them in art school or in the movies), one naked model poses, 20 minutes a pose, static. The idea is to train the eye and the hand, so they can work together to create the work. Only, Stefan does this with the skaters trying the tricks, on the spot, the person might take 3 tries or they might take 2 hours, but as we all know the “photo moment” is only visible for a second. Stefan obviously has a well-trained eye and “Lucky Luke-Esque” hand speed because he managed to get most tricks down in like 3 or 4 tries. And I don’t mean 3 or 4 drawings, I mean tries by the skaters. If you fancy yourself a skilled drawer, please go try this out and you will see how tough it can be.
Taking the city by the hand
Remember when we said this shit was FUBU? Well after our shoot Julian went to the studio and created the tunes, Stefan went to scan, collage, and plot out how to go from A4 to a full wall and Peter went back and captured all the footage. Excitement was in the air because we all had contributed to the first leg of the project and all the skaters wondered what it would be like to see and skate in a place where they themselves were represented. In the end, Peter got so excited that he got Covid and Lucas Jankoscheck head honcho over at Turtle Productions had to assist in the final filming process. But once we got to see the final work a smile got over everyone and Carolina actually ended up wall riding herself. Now that is some meta shit, isn’t it?
Our plan worked, we took a part of Berlin and put it into one of the most important spaces in the skateboarding lifestyle of the city. A place where young refugees can come and learn about skating and meet local kids. A space that invests in safe spaces for LGTBQIA+ skate sessions and skate lessons. A building that we will probably spend a lot of time in during the coming months and you can be sure that you will see Andrey, Carolina, Julian, Paul, Jan, Valle & Peter all grinding, sliding, and manualing past their own image. A big part of this project has been an attempt to show a diverse representation of the skate scene in Berlin and create that same type of vibe inside of the Skatehalle. You can be the judge and say if we succeeded but we want to thank Vans & the Skatehalle Berlin for letting us try. Thank you!