Published titles > Photography > California Concrete: A Landscape of Skateparks
California Concrete: A Landscape of Skateparks cover image
UK £35.00
US $50.00
128 pages
90 illustrations
29 x 25 cm (11.5 x 9.75 in)
ISBN: 978-1-8589-4678-8
California Concrete: A Landscape of Skateparks

Amir Zaki

Essays by Tony Hawk and Peter Zellner


California is the birthplace of skateboard culture and, even though skateparks are found worldwide today, it is where these parks continue to flourish as the sport evolves and architects, engineers and skateboarders collaborate to refine their designs. The artist Amir Zaki grew up skateboarding, so he has an understanding of these spaces and, as someone who has spent years photographing the built and natural landscape of California, he has an appreciation of the large concrete structures not only as sculptural forms, but also as significant features of the contemporary landscape, belonging to a tradition of public art and Brutalist architecture. To create the images in this book, Zaki photographed in the early-morning light, climbing inside the bowls and pipes while there were no skaters around. Each photograph is a composite of dozens of shots taken with a digital camera mounted on a motorized tripod head. The look of the resulting images is unusual in that Zaki’s lens is somewhat telephoto, which has the effect of flattening space, yet the angle of view is often quite wide, which exaggerates spatial depth. The technology also allows Zaki to photograph certain areas from difficult positions that would otherwise be impossible to capture. In his text, Tony Hawk – one of world’s best-known professional skateboarders – describes how Zaki’s photographs of empty skateparks and open skies evoke memories of the idyllic freedom that he felt when he first visited a skatepark as a child and saw skaters flying like birds in and out of the concrete pools and bowls. Hawk has skated in some of the parks featured in this book, and for him several of Zaki’s images, taken from the skater’s perspective, recall the experience of trying to learn a particular trick. In his essay, the Los Angeles-based architect Peter Zellner charts the beginnings of modern vertical skateboarding in the mid-1970s and the subsequent proliferation of purpose-built skateparks, and he draws parallels with the almost simultaneous reinvention of American landscape photography, when photographers turned their lenses away from the natural world and refocused on the man-made landscape. Zaki’s remarkable photographs of strangely supernatural skateparks, devoid of their users, inherit this reinvented tradition by finding beauty in a seemingly denatured concrete suburbia.


A mesmerizing collection of photographs of concrete skateparks located across California, the birthplace of skating culture, by the artist – and erstwhile skateboarder – Amir Zaki

Features a contribution from the skateboarding legend Tony Hawk

With an appreciation of contemporary American landscape photography and the evolution of the modern skatepark by the Los Angeles-based architect Peter Zellner

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Author Profiles

Amir Zaki an artist based in Southern California. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1999, since which time he has regularly exhibited his photographs and videos both nationally and internationally, including in solo shows in Los Angeles, New York and Seattle. His work is held in numerous public and private collections across the United States, among them the Whitney Museum of American Art and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. He has previously published two monographs, VLHV (2003) and Eleven Minus One (2010), featured in the anthologies of contemporary photography Vitamin Ph (2006), Photography is Magic (2015) and Both Sides of Sunset (2015), and contributed to the essays in Words Without Pictures (2010).

Tony Hawk is an American professional skateboarder and the owner of the skateboard company Birdhouse. He was the National Skateboard Association’s world champion for 12 consecutive years. One of the most influential pioneers of modern vertical skateboarding, in 1999 he became the first skater to land a ‘900’ – a trick involving the completion of two-and-a-half mid-air revolutions on a skateboard. In 2002 he established the Tony Hawk Foundation, which helps to build skateparks in underprivileged areas.

Peter Zellner is an architect based in Los Angeles. He has designed numerous notable public and private art galleries in Los Angeles and New York, and has curated exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles and Riverside, California. He is a faculty member at the School of Architecture of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and in 2016 he founded the Free School of Architecture, a non-profit organization committed to the free exploration and exchange of ideas in and around architecture. He is the author of several essays and books, including Pacific Edge (1998) and Hybrid Space (1999).

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