Richard Gilligan’s DIY, published last year by 1980 Éditions in Paris, may well come to be seen as skateboarding’s Poetics of Space, the Gaston Bachelard classic on architecture as a reflection of historical experience. Appropriately, Gilligan is less interested in the actual action of the sport than he is in the environments that enable it—curves in highway overpasses, drained backyard pools, lots in southern peach orchards. Still, Gilligan’s focal point seems not, as the title might suggest, in the labor of construction but in the temporal feel of space whose purpose seems to have momentarily passed. Gilligan is able to carry his thesis through to the surface of the images, in each case placing the structures within the greater context of their surroundings. Even, it seems, at its most urban—New York’s BQE, a Leeds alleyway, a Berlin backyard—skateboarding is a castaway’s sport, and the community is inherently offset by a need to whittle a curved surface out of a public structure, the oddness of which stands out when those spaces are empty. As Iain Borden points out in his poignant introduction, “These photographs remind us that not only do skateboarders construct their own worlds, but that these places are also, if we should so choose to look, mixed into our own spaces and cities.”

Richard Gilligan’s DIY is out now from 1980 Éditions.

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