Dichiarazione di un dato di fatto: INCOMPIUTO
Chris Pfanner . Martino Cattaneo . Alexey Krasniy . Pepe Tirelli . Thanos Panou . Yeelen Moens . Rob Maatman
Mattia Turco . Giovanni Grazzani . Simone Verona . Daniel Cardone . Victor Pellegrin . Oscar Candon . Dustin Dollin
Max Pack . Mauro Caruso . Andrew Zolin . Ale
It's a pleasure for me to see that people are recognizin' The Island.
It's weird because I'm not from there... and I'm not even living there... but love is a big thing... and my love for this place started early. But we are talking about something else, here. I don't want to start it talking about hot water. "Hot water", for me, when I talk about The Island, means La Mano Nera... call it whatever you want, but I know you got what I'm talking about. And please forget about HollyWood movies. We are talking about the old real stuff... where everything comes from. Ok, you got it. During a long period of time, from the 70s to the 90s, criminal organizations were big and still relatively underground, so they basically did whatever they wanted. One of the biggest piggy-bank was construction business; they started to build like crazy, everywhere, and a lot of those stuff they built were basically illegal poured concrete. They covered The Island with useless things in forgotten places but oh boy… how much money they got from it! How could it be possible? Because we are human beings and we do f*cked-up things… like destroy the place we live just to have more cash in our pocket. Are you still reading? If yes maybe means that you are that kind of people, the one who do not understand why we act like this, those that can rhyme the name Martina Hingis with cunnilingus. But why we can´t just get along? Like me and my mom! Stop talking about my parents. I want to introduce to you the biggest database of skate spot: Facebook. But you already knew it, right? How many spots did you find just lurking on the FB Pages? Not much? You´re not so lucky, boy. I was luckier than you because I found a good situation, on those pages. After that discovery I deleted my profile because I was tired of checking how cooler than me was my ex-girlfriend-new-boyfriend…. but before the deleting I found some photos of this big ditch just next to The Island Capital City.
I went crazy. Something like that… just laying there? I did some more documentation and I found something else: a group of artist/architects from Milano were working on a big project about this kind of “dead” things in The Island. The project was called Incompiuto and I loved it immediately. I got in touch with those guys and after a quick talk they were totally into it so, at the end of the meeting, I went back home with a complete list of the places they checked in The Island. It was 2015 and I was already living in Berlin since 3 years but I was already going back and forth to The Island since 5 years, so we started to check every place that we got from that list. I think we checked 100 places and we end up having 18 good places to ride. Problems and more problems took shape immediatly: how, when, with who? If you are familiar with La Dolce Vita you know that, for us, 1 + 1 = 3, so nothing is impossible, but you must believe in yourself and in Antonello. This time we mixed the Etna Volcano powder with some green shrubs we got from our boy in Via Plebiscito, and relaxed our brain cells, knowing that we were on the right path. A couple of years passed and, one day of autumn, I was sitting in my room in Invaliden Strasse, petting my cat and thinking if is true the rumor that someone else, behind the curtains, played bass instead of Sid Vicious at the infamous Winterland Concert, when Mauro called me: “Ehy chico, I´m here with Chris Pfanner, I talked with him about the project we have in mind. He´s down like crazy, let´s do it”.
Mmm… The first, and last time that I met Chris was 10 years prior this conversation. He was invited by the italian Vans management to spend some days in Italy and I was with them. I don´t know why I was there, to be honest, I think I recycled myself as a filmer just to spend some good skateboarding days on the road. I remember we were in a car when Chris stopped the automobile because he saw a rail he wanted to skate. He did a frontside five-0 second try, then we were back in our car and a couple years later he was turned pro. I remember that that day I was happy for him, but I was happier the day I knew he was down with this project.
To be down for something must means that you love it or, at least, you have some interest in it. Chris was down with The Island, the sun, the spot, the food… basically he wants to live La Dolce Vita.
Without wasting any time we set everything: team, budget, music royalties, and then… the unexpected hit us like a ton of bricks. Have you heard about that virus stuff? It´s been around since a while now, and gave to us poor little Italians big big problems, especially in the North. So everything stopped and it started again months later, but everything was different, the whole world was different: we immediately understood that some of the people that had to come couldn´t, because of travel bans, but Chris was still down for it, down like crazy. Hey Chris… thank you for being you! We had to restart everything but in a little time we were set again, people were called and plane tickets were booked. The fire was starting to burn. The mission was set up in a classic way: let´s go to this spots and let´s skate&destroy everything in sight. It was the first time for me to meet a bunch of psychos like these. The cream of the Old World skateboarding. At the beginning it sounded weird: do you remember those jokes when you were a kid? The one who start with something like: “There´s a guy from Italy, one from France, one from Greece…”; but in this bunch there were no jokes. Just psychos… but the kind that I like. Remember, kids, that Russia is not Europe… so Alexey is basically a non-European. Who is Alexey? More later. Let´s go back to The Island. The air bnb were booked and, if you are an avid Thrasher reader like me, you´ll know that these guys had a good time in those rented houses, the only problem is that not everybody enjoy fun at the same way, so those kids were banned from some apartments. I don´t think that they chilled out but here in The Island… sounded like they had different feelings… and they didn´t trash anything. And they could… we went in 3 air bnb and everyone of them had pool in the garden but nobody threw anything in it. Glad about it, guys. The time we met was an explosion of joy and happiness! For me and Mauro because we had this project in mind since a couple of years and finally we started to see an end; and for the boys because was a great time hangin´out with friends, after all this pandemic situation.
If you have in mind to put together something like this, let me tell you one thing: stay focused and relaxed at the same time. Stuff could get sour in 5 minutes, especially with people that you don´t know. For example… I experienced on my skin the DD Treatment. He kept insulting me for 2 days straight. Basically day and night. But at the end everything faded away… especially when I pointed out that the nickname he choosed for me sounded like it was coming from a cheap HollyWood gangster movie and he could do better. And the lesson is this, basically: if you want to go to the bar with the Big Dogs… you better start drinking. Ok, who cares about this? This thing I´m gonna tell you now is more interesting: the places we chose for this mission were peculiar. I already told you that all those buildings and s*hit were something “illegal” but… we skated a velodrome, we skated a ditch that ends with a full pipe bigger than the village my grandma lives, we skated also a motorway exit. Crazy? This is The Island, I told you. But nothing is good as it seems. The trip started bad: Pepe Tirelli got badly hurt on his first trick at the first spot, an abandoned police station. Ambulance, hospital, back-operation and back home. Damn! DD kept the moral up, Chris kept everything together and we hit the road again. Next spot: a velodrome with yellow banks. After 10 minutes the cops came and kicked us out (they were following us after the police-station incident) but Doobie Pellegrin and Thanos Panou proved that you can get the best stuff real quick, if you have those kind of balls. The fire burns higher from now on. Van-life with this guys is amazing: laughs, laughs, laughs and pushing on the accelerator to get to the next spot as fast as we can. These guys are living in the fast lane. Next morning we hit the road with an idea in mind: to skate two empty pools. The first one was a sh*t-show full of garbage, it was grey and raw but Martino Cattaneo shut everything with impossible lines, while DD did what he does best: impress people with his style. The second pool had blue tiles everywhere, it was covered with dust but we made it shine like a mirror.
We skated for hours, chilled a bit and when we smoked the last joint of the session the police came, pissed as hell. They were thinking we were destroying an already destroyed building and when they saw that we cleaned the spot and were skating it, basically let us go on the spot, because they didn´t really understand what we were doing and why… and also because they were too lazy to get all the passport and transcribe foreigners´ names. Ok no problem, let´s go back home and let Gio “Dumb” Grazzani, Simone Verona and wonder-filmer Andrew Zolin cook for us. Those guys cooked the whole tour, like crazy, even for those vegetarian m-fuckers like me. While the kitchen crew was busy, the other boys were playing dices, drinking like there´s no tomorrow and enjoying watching Etna Volcano spitting lava-tongues all around. Have I told you that the real king of The Island is the Volcano? Not now. Stay tuned for more happy days. The weather was a little bit tricky so we started a lot of days on the trip waking up, getting together and hitting bars before moving form spot to spot. Wait a minute… we hit bars when the weather was bad, we hit bars when the weather was good, we hit bars a lot of time. With a colorful crew like this it was funny to see the way people eat or interact with our precious food. It was perfect and starting the day with a couple of Aperol Spritz as breakfast is something really good. Thanks, Steve! One day we skated a park. A whole big brand new park is let down to rot in the middle of nowhere. That´s life. The bank that you can skate at the end of it is rough but Alexey Krasnyi and Oscar Candon used it with elegance and grace (and Alexey had a broken finger on his foot). Aaaaahhhh… another day, another velodrome. This one is bigger than the other one. So it means more cement. At one point I had a random thought: how many people are buried in all this cement? Think about it. And also… who planned to put a curb on top of that bank? Genius or just a way to drop more concrete? The Agricoltural Consortium that we skated the next day was something like a small ghost village, with destroyed surveillance car, skate-spot surprises and a roof with banks, everything hidden in the wild woods. Nobody sees, nobody thinks about it. Not like the other roof we skated later. Perfect for a ride but too close to the buildings. Golden hour is special in The Island, and Mattia Turco and Rob Maatman gave us some late-evening-sun-soaked-pleasure before someone called his friends (not the cops, for sure) so we got kicked out after a quickie.
We had a couple of hard-times with justice, but everything turned out ok. One day we were skating this huge and beautiful theater when police came for a first time, asking what we were doing, but they were ok. They checked on us for ten times, or something like that, until they decided to kick the s*it out of Yeelen Moens. He got really nervous, the pig took the stick out and kicked us. We left for a couple of minutes, then the boys went back (just skater, filmer and wonderful Davi Van Laere behind the lens) and got it in a handful of tries. Pigs can fly, so if you see ´em… clip their wings and let ´em fall. The other spot where they tried to kick us out was this huge huge sport-hall. We spent hours cleaning all the bushes and stuff, we started to ride the hubbas and this two local police officers come, telling us that we can´t do that. One of them was tall and skinny, the second was short and fat. Imagine some italian-speaking Abbott&Costello. We said “No, we´re not going”, so they called reinforcements. These two Carabinieri came and they were pissed. Another guy was with ´em and he was the sport´s councilor of that small village. They were not understanding what we were doing. Not at all. We showed ´em some photos and how we cleaned the spot but they still were not getting what was going on. Then a light bulb switched on in the politician´s head. He saw our boards and he understood something, then just walked away for a bit. He came with his phone in his hand. The speakerphone was on and we heard a voice saying these words: “Guys, I´m the major of the village. If you promise me that you´ll be back next year to do a free demo in the village´s main square… I´ll let you ride the hall”. Damn! The answer was yes, police left the place, we cracked a fresh one, lighted a bong and had so much fun for the rest of the day. But I want to save the best for last, just like that horrible song. Isn´t it weird that the biggest song in your career was written by someone else than you… and the fact that it´s a Christmas hit add weirdeness to the top of the cake. But if you wrote a ballad like that, you are gonna make a lot of money, so who cares.
Ok, as I already told you… we found a pipe. The kind that you have to spend some time just to figure out what is going on. We did a fast cleaning. Chris and DeeDee experience helped us a lot. Martino completely destroyed that thing. Lines, lines, lines. And I´m not talking about the white stuff that goes up your nose. I´m talking about happiness. That kind of happiness that I had just watching Daniel Cardone floating on those concrete slabs. He was floating. Literally. He also found a old coin in the deep of the tunnel and he´s now back home rich and settled. Have I told you that the pipe-tunnel ends with a bank-to-bank that goes into this weird concrete forest? No? Well… now you know. One day, after the pipe session, we were looking for a place to eat. We checked online for the closest-cheapest place and we found the Holiday Bar. That bar was heaven. They loved us the second we got in. We basically squatted the place for days, eating like crazy, drinking everything in sight and smoking like we were in Kingston. The locals were entertained by Dustin and his stories and after two hours he had a lot of new friends. They suggested a place where we camped for free. Giving us their shovels and maddocks for the pipe-cleaning… and we broke both. They didn´t care much about that because they couldn´t believe of what we were doing in the ditch. And, you know, when everybody is always smiling… and when filmer Max Pack tat himself with something that happened during those days… it means that the crew is living La Dolce Vita.
photo & words: Ale
The following article appeared in Thrasher Magazine #490, may 2021.
We were lucky enough to have a book produced for this project.
This is the intro that Igor Fardin and Maria Victoria Londono-Becerra wrote for it:
Incompiuto means unfinished or incomplete and it is the characteristic that gathers an impressive number of buildings and architectural structures all over the Italian peninsula and its islands. So much so that the italian collective Alterazioni Video has considered it, in a provocative way, the most important architectural style from the postwar period until today. Roads that don’t lead anywhere, swimming pools that were never filled, overpasses that stop half way through - these ruins of modernity cost billions and would need more to be completed. As a result of that, they are neither destroyed nor finished. They stand as symbols of the economical, political and social system that created them ––of what that system considered beautiful and good.
The birth of Incompiuto dates to the period following the Second World War, when the necessities of reconstruction met a period of economic recovery and a building boom. It is then that the Italian territory at large started to become a space to conquer for private building interests. The main actors of this conquest are building speculation, organized crime and a corrupted bureaucracy within a State that played a rather passive role in the building process. An important part in this phenomenon is also played by a society that focuses on its present, that uses its skills, creativity and resources for short-term goals with little concern for the long-term.
During the autumn of 2020 a group of skateboarders, not intimidated by the symbolic value of Incompiuto, took a trip to tackle, in their own way, the epicenter of this architectural style: Sicily. From a first perspective it is rather obvious how these abandoned locations can be attractive spots for skateboarding: their empty and vast concrete materiality offers a favorable built environment. Empty ditches, steep velodrome banks, no busts and no traffic to worry about - all this sounds like a skateboarder’s dream. Nonetheless a more attentive reading of the relationship between skateboarding and Incompiuto will reveal another, perhaps deeper, connection between the two of them. They both share a lack of function and in their encounter they stage a radical lack of purpose. In other words, the act of skateboarding on Incompiuto does not produce anything. Photos and videos of it can become products, but the act itself is an ephemeral game - It has no productive goal. Skateboarding on Incompiuto offers a critique of the idea of function, of purpose, and in general to the structure of means-ends that seems to pervade and rule our society of production and consumption.
We would like to think that what happens between skateboarding and Incompiuto is an event, or what the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has called a gesture: the exhibition of a pure mediality without end. Skaters tackle Incompiuto by doing tricks , but doing so also shows that it can be done, that a relation between bodies and unfinished spaces can exist.
Skateboarding on Incompiuto is nothing more, or nothing beyond, the very act of skateboarding on Incompiuto, of using the unfinished nature of these spaces for exhibiting an ephemeral gesture. Tricks, as gestures, are ephemeral insofar as they leave nothing behind themselves except some wheels or wax traces. Being ephemeral, skateboarding does not seek to complete Incompiuto. On the contrary, skating allows these spaces to exhibit their mediality, to show their unfinished and non-functional nature, leaving the space open to a multiplicity of future interactions. Skating new spots had always opened the door for other people and for other tricks to happen, but in this case, given the peculiarity of the spots, the effect might expand even outside skateboarding. In other words, skating as a gesture gives temporary significance to Incompiuto by activating the space while preserving its unfinished nature and symbolic value. A monument of the society that created it, Incompiuto also comes to represent the failure of such a project.
For those who could not be there and experience the act of skateboarding on Incompiuto, there are photos and videos. The photos in this book are fragments of skateboarders’ gestures on these structures, fragments that acquire all their sense only when seen as part of a complete movement. When we look at a wallride photo, we imagine the movement that led to it and it acquires all its sense when we know what a wallride is. So it is as if these images, while freezing the gestures of skateboarders on Incompiuto, allow the viewer to replay the whole movement in her head every time she feels like it. Of course, it is easier if the viewer knows skateboarding and a bit harder if she does not.
Nevertheless, these photos introduce bodies in spaces that have mostly been portrayed as still, human-less. They show gestures in spaces that have mostly been portrayed as symbols and monuments, something only given to contemplation. In doing so, they show how the presence of human bodies can be part of Incompiuto’s spaces in an ephemeral way, preserving their unfinished characteristics and opening up new ways of interaction.
Alexey Krasniy . Early grab 5-0
Oscar Candon . Switch bs flip
Martino Cattaneo . Fs 50-50
Dustin Dollin . Fs flip
Martino Cattaneo . Kickflip
Mattia Turco . Bs heelflip
Yeelen Moens . Fs pivot to fakie
Victor Pellegrin . Kickflip in
Yeelen Moens . Ride on 50-50 in
Victor Pellegrin . Ollie
Oscar Candon . Fs wallride
Rob Maatman . Ollie to fakie
Alexey Krasniy . Kickflip
Chris Pfanner . Ollie
Daniel Cardone . Crailslide
Martino Cattaneo . Fs air
Gio Grazzani . Slappie bs smith
Oscar Candon . Ollie tailslide
Rob Maatman . Bluntslide transfer
Thanos Panou . Boardslide stalefish yank in
Daniel Cardone . Fs flip
Simone Verona . Boneless in
Rob Maatman . Kickflip
Yeelen Moens . Wallie fs crookie grind
The book is produced by Vans Europe, Alex Forbes and Chris Pfanner
All the photo: Davy Van Laere
Art direction: Ale Formenti & DVL