Do you rememvber 2020? It was a year that was supposed to happen, maybe even happen a certain way. The haze and turmoil and, at least in Europe, subsequent shutdown and moves to re-open have brought a few art openings back into play, albeit a bit adjusted. This includes our contributing editor, Sasha Bogojev, and his curated show, 8th Ply, which opened this past weekend a bit in the evolved nature of what an art opening is this year.

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One thing that was really supposed to happen in 2020 were the Olympics in one of the greatest cities in the world, Tokyo. So many events/art shows/cultural activities that were going to piggy-back on the Games. Bogojev and the people of The Garage Amsterdam have 8th Ply, a group show of international artists who are examples on the evolution of skateboarding and its influnece on contemporary art. And, the show is a bit of an ode to skateboarding's debut at the Olympics that never were (and, we assume, might be in 2021). "Seven layers of maple wood, or 7-ply, is the core construction of the skateboard deck and the bedrock of this glo- bally popular sport/lifestyle," Bogojev writies. "In a year when skateboarding was destined to debut as an official Olympic sport for the first time in history, 8th Ply is here to put a focus on another layer of this popular activity."

One of the beautiful parts of the show is that there isn't a skateboard in sight; it's more of a conceptual look at the sport's immense influence. Jean Jullien, Andrew Schoultz, Josh Jefferson, Boris Tellegen, artists we know grew up on city streets, navigating urban obstacles and infrastructure, have allowed for their artwork to resemble that early creativity. But more importantly, the show is about a burgeoning sense of identity, how as young adults, these artists were able to find a sense of self in what was once known as an outsider activity. Dr. Neftalie Williams, a recent transplant from the US to the Netherlands, gave a wonderful insight on the show. —Evan Pricco
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“From my perspective, 8th Ply represents the channeling of human energy and emotion into the artifact of the skateboard. The combination of board and rider together allows each to become greater than the sum of their parts. My work across the globe bears witness to the inspiring magic that occurs when skateboarders—particularly among SOC—are allowed to move beyond the local and contribute their viewpoints, actions, and activism to the global language of skateboarding culture. Each rider carries a different thread of humanity which, when woven into the broader fabric of skateboarding, emboldens the next generation to see skateboarding as an outlet for their voice.

"As a young Black teenager, I witnessed firsthand how overt and covert racism negatively affected the lives of people of color, and I sought ways to disrupt its effects. Once discovering skateboarding, I found a new space of freedom and self-ex- pression, as part of a multi-gendered, multiracial collective dedicated to pushing through life’s challenges atop 7-Plys of Hardrock-maple. The diversity within our coalition offered a blueprint, which demonstrated that when harnessed correct- ly, skateboarding culture might offer the possibility to challenge power, build community, and create social change.” —Dr. Neftalie Williams, Artist. Scholar. Diplomat. Activist. Skateboarder.

8th Ply features work by Ed Templeton, James Jarvis, Jean Jullien, Adam Neate, Boris Tellegen, Parra, Josh Jefferson, Andrew Schoultz, and Jeffrey Cheung.