A show featuring the photographic works of Israeli artist Michal Chelbin and California-based photographer Hugh Holland present disparate visions of childhood, athleticism, and homosocial experiences. In “Locals Only” Holland’s color photographs document skateboarding culture in the mid-seventies, specifically the days of Dogtown in Venice, California where skateboarding was an extension of surfing and not yet a commercial sport. “Locals Only” captures the renegade spirit of local skaters who trespassed into backyards to defy gravity in empty swimming pools and smoked grass on the sidelines. “Down on the Corner, Danny Kwok, Balboa Beach” celebrates a moment when young Kwok is lost in the bliss of skating on asphalt. Barefoot and bare-chested, his pre-adolescent physique is low to the ground as if it were gliding on invisible beads of water. While the boys of Z Town seem blissfully unaware of the camera, the European athletes of professional wrestling schools in “Black Eye” are acutely aware of its presence. They awkwardly pose in unitards that accentuate every part of their developing form.
Images Courtesy of the artist and M+B Gallery
“Black Eye Ukraine” depicts a small boy who couldn’t be much more than ten years old, his unitard straps twisted in a knot on the front of his chest. He stares directly into the lens despite his blackened right eye. Chelbin’s subjects range from pre-pubescent to mature males, as seen in “Llya, Ukraine’ who seems proud of his chiseled chest as it straddles his waist. While wrestling is an age-old sport, the series chronicles a European ethos and expectation of boys to fight and wear it as a badge of masculinity. It makes skateboarding seem an act of child’s play.
Image Courtesy of the artist and M+B Gallery