In the Oscar-winning 2019 documentary Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl), filmmakers Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva shed bittersweet light on an unlikely skateboarding group in Kabul, Afghanistan. The film is shot in a school set up by non-profit organisation Skateistan, where children (both boys and girls) who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the education system are taught how to read and write – before slipping into sneakers for a lesson in traversing the ramps of the school’s indoor skatepark.
Skateistan was founded by Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich “to give Afghan youth a positive outlet and community”. What began in 2007 as ad-hoc skate sessions has developed into a programme that now supports 2,500 underprivileged children every week across its four schools in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. The charity is now preparing to construct a skatepark and school in the Afghan city of Bamyan, where the historic Gautama Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
Joining Skateistan in this initiative is The Skateroom, a Brussels-based brand producing limited-edition artist-designed skateboards and donating 25 per cent of profits to social projects. “We choose artists who want to support our mission, who want to get involved with Skateistan and might even consider going to Afghanistan with us,” says The Skateroom’s founder Charles-Antoine Bodson, referencing a collaboration with Paul McCarthy that raised $200,000 for Skateistan’s school in South Africa.
The Skateroom’s latest collaboration is with David Zwirner gallery, MoMA Design Store and artist Raymond Pettibon. A champion of the California punk scene in the 1980s, Pettibon’s characteristically cartoon-like surfer-themed works – No Title (You have a Clear…) and No Title (The Bright Flatness) – have inspired two exclusive editions (€350 and €750). Both are designed to be hung as artworks and will be available to order from Thursday 18 June, with the aim of raising $50,000 for Skateistan’s Bamyan school.