FREE TO FALL

by Mariano Giménez & Juan Cruz Molas y Molas

30/04/2020

KEVIN ENIS

You need a strong mindset to skate, the same applies to photography. You have to try harder every time, you need practice, patience, and keep moving, that’s the only way to improve. There are no shortcuts. You may feel depressed sometimes, but if you keep trying eventually you are going to make it. There is no better master than slamming your face to a wall.

 

Kevin Enis spoke with Subterráneo about his roots, skateboarding, his photography and giving back to others. He is one of those photographers that keeps pushing forward, his photography reminiscent the classics but with a twist of contemporary perfection. He manages to capture timeless pictures with that beautiful feeling, that contrast which only lives in the big cities.

How does the big city affect your life experience? On a daily basis? And how does that experience affect your gaze?

 

Buenos Aires has a fairly intense rhythm, but I like it and it encourages me to be on the street as long as possible, producing. I find it to be a great city, where there are always infinite alternatives both to take photos and to skate.

 

As for the look and the way of working, it gave me a lot of speed when it came to photographing. In most cases we are kicked out of the spots, which is why we have to be quick: assemble your team, design the light, choose the angle and shoot in a matter of minutes. I think that condition was incorporated into my way of looking, and I always try to capture dynamism and speed in my photographs.

 

Being on the street constantly also connects you with the harsh reality that exists in our large cities. And personally I think that this affected my way of looking towards the search for other fields of photography with a more social vision.

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Tomas Scicchitano
Tomas scicchitano . Brooklyn Banks NYC.j
Tomas Scicchitano - Brooklyn Banks NYC
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Agustin Paschetta - NYC
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Christian Sansy hand - Bs As
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Manhattan - NYC

How was the experience of photographing New York like?

 

To tell you the truth, it was incredible. Today I look at the photos of NY and I don’t recognize myself as the author of those images. I was lucky to spend two months with friends, we stopped in Crown Heights Brooklyn, it was like living in a Spike Lee movie. From there we moved everywhere by subway and every day was like returning home full of very powerful images, both on camera and in my head.

 

It was good to be able to visit the city with a skating plan, since we got into places where I wouldn’t have had a chance going as a tourist. We skate in neighborhoods with a reputation for being dangerous, the truth is that there was always a good vibe with the neighbors, in fact, it was the people in those neighborhoods who were most open to being portrayed.

Natural light changes depending on the city you are in. How do you feel this affects when going out to compose?

 

Exactly that is what I discovered traveling, it’s the same sun but according to the geographical position of the city, the air pollution and the structures that surround you the light changes dramatically.

 

For example New York has a very particular natural light; I think it’s partly due to the height, the textures, the colors of its buildings, and how the light bounces off them, generating a very characteristic atmosphere. It's interesting to let yourself be carried away by what gives you the natural light of each place, especially if you are traveling. With skateboarding sometimes it’s difficult for me to detach from the flash, since it’s a very useful tool when it comes to lighting and separating the subject from the background. But I think lately I've been choosing to put the flash aside, playing around with ambient light and seeing what happens.

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Brooklyn - NYC
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Brooklyn - NYC
Agustin Paschetta NYC.jpg
Agustin Paschetta - NYC
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Manhattan - NYC
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Brooklyn - NYC
Subte de Bs As

When you skate, how do you carry out the process of waiting between shots? What are you doing in those moments, in that moment of suspense?

 

In general, these spaces inspire me to capture different types of images that surround us, the people we cross, buildings, or portray my friends in their flow. I also try to skate a little bit to keep the rhythm, although I'm getting more lazy lol.

 

There are times when I simply need to stay calm, lie down, sunbathe and watch the guys skate.

Composing or adapting to the environment, can you imagine a shot beforehand, visualize a spot, or is it more improvised?

 

When we go straight to do a trick in a certain spot, it’s inevitable for me to lay out the lighting and the framing, anyway when you get to the spot the variables always change either due to the light or obstacles you encounter. But I try to go with an idea in my head. When nothing comes to mind beforehand, I do the opposite and leave it to chance.

 

The best photos arise from spontaneity, go skating with your friends, look for spots and see what happens. There are no models or plans there, it’s the improvisation of the moment.

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Eze Martinez, Diego Juan, Mariano Bertero, Tomas Scichitano
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Santiago Goicochea - Bs As
Federico Hazama-BSAS.jpg
Federico Hazama -Bs As
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Matías More - Bs As

How do you manage to interpret the personality and style of each skater? Is it something that occurs spontaneously or is it premeditated?

 

It is something that occurs naturally, the good thing about skateboarding is that each person has a different style and creativity when it comes to skating. Different types of tricks, different spot choices, different ways of dressing, etc.

 

All that synergy ends up being reflected in the images.

In your images we see certain reminiscences of skate videos from the late 90s, early 2000s, which videos or skaters influenced you not only from a technical or visual issue such as the use of the fisheye but also from codes and beliefs? From that essential side?

 

Unfortunately I dind’t live that close to that golden age of skate, I’m from ‘95 and although I skate since I was a child, I didn’t discover skate videos until I was 13 years old.

 

I think those who marked me and transmitted these codes to me are my friends, of very different ages, from whom I learned and learn a lot.

 

Those years were marked by a very particular style, both in video and photography. The technique and textures were very different from those days to today, more sloppy perhaps, but authentic. 

Tape cameras (Sony Vx), analog photography with expired emulsions, low shutter speed, and flashing frames. It was a time of experimentation. Production times were different, everything was slower and more laborious. But also the content had another value. Today in the digital age everything is instantaneous, ephemeral, and the magic gets lost a little bit.

 

We currently have a project with three friends who lived in those years: Delivery Buenos Aires. It’s a studio / brand that seeks to rescue the best of those times by adapting them to those of today. Go skating the street with friends, produce video and photo material with tools and techniques of that time, rescue those textures. We also try to present our productions by showing them live, hold exhibitions and publish the material in printed magazines.

 

Follow us on Instagram to know the project: @deliverybuenosaires

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Soho - NYC
Ezequiel Martinez Slappy 5050 Buenos Air
Ezequiel Martinez -  Slappy 5050 - Buenos Aires
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Fede Hazana - Bs As
Mariano Bertero.jpg
Mariano Bertero
Amadeo zago Bsas.jpg
Amadeo Zago - Bs As
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Brooklyn NYC

How are skateboarders involved in your creative process? Do you notice that some are more involved in the process than others or are interested from an aesthetic point in addition to doing the trick?

 

Yes! It's great when that happens. Sometimes the skater comes with ideas or references that contribute significantly to the process, most skaters have a very fresh view of the angle from which the trick can be seen incredible, you have to be open to those tips. Producing skate content is a team effort, both for the skateboarder and for the filmmaker and the photographer, it’s good to talk between the 3 of them about the possible angles and aesthetics to work with.

What was the experience of working at '31 Skate School 'like? Could you tell us a bit about this project?

 

31 Skate school is a project that originated out of the need to continue skateboarding classes in Villa 31. These were started by a private brand, which for economic reasons, could not continue with the project. Harrison Glen Williams, who at the time was a designer for the brand, took over the school on a voluntary basis.

 

The number of children wanting to learn grew exponentially and then he called me to give him a hand and we started to spread the school to get more volunteers. Today we are a team of 10 volunteers who carry out the project, self-managed, with the help of the people, La Casa de la Cultura, located within the property, and the brands that want to contribute to it.

 

The classes are held from 10 to 12 in block 99, where the Ledesma field is, a soccer field with a perfect floor, and around the corner is the bowl built by the City Government. We have around 40 students from 3 to 16 years old and we lend them skates that we managed to put together thanks to donations from the people.

 

It’s a very rewarding experience, since as we know skate is not just a sport, it’s a culture and it has many edges. This generates great personal growth in the boys, who began to connect with art, drawing, photography and with values ​​such as friendship, solidarity and perseverance.

 

The change in the children is remarkable, some in the early days were very violent and through the classes they are channeling all that violence into creative energy to skate. It’s remarkable the change that is taking place in the children’s character with the progress of the classes, seeing how their energies are channeled in a creative and positive way for them and their environment. It’s very encouraging to see how something as simple as a wooden board with wheels can change kids' lives, giving them a tool to grow.

 

In addition to the school, we regularly do activities such as drawing and photography workshops, outings to skateparks and special events where parents and neighbors come to share the afternoon.

 

You can follow the project on instagram: @31escueladeskate

"It’s very encouraging to see how something as simple as a wooden board with wheels can change kids' lives, giving them a tool to grow".

- Kevin Enis.

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Villa 31
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Villa 31
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Villa 31
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Villa 31
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Villa 31
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Rafael Torres - Villa 31
Kevin Enis, retrato tomado por Roman- Vi
Retrato tomado por Román - Villa 31

How to make skateboarding a more accessible sport, or to reach more people, from the industry and from the actors?

 

Skate as I look at it has no rules, it’s about expressing yourself in the environment, having fun and reinventing the urban space, without competing with others. Is it a physical activity? Yes, but it is much more than a "sport" in a strict sense, it is a powerful tool that we have to bring it closer to the kids, to those who have least, because we are going to be offering them many opportunities, in a sport, artistic and cultural way.

 

It would be a dream to be able to replicate the model we have in Villa 31 in other emergency neighborhoods in Argentina. Creating these focus points are a good way to make skateboarding more accessible and more plural.

 

This may not depend so much on the industry, but on the skaters themselves. The industry will sooner or later move according to the actors.

What is it to be human for you?

 

Make mistakes, learn and keep trying.

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Christian Bica - Bs As
Milton Martinez siendo tatuado - Bs As
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Christian Bica - Sw Crooked - Bs As
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Juan Oppen -  Buenos Aires
Brooklyn - NYC
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Franco Morales - Bs As
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Autorretrato - Bs As

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Interview by Mariano Giménez & Juan Cruz Molas y Molas.

Intro by Juan Cruz Molas y Molas.

(Photographs courtesy of Kevin Enis).

SUBTERRANEO 

To see or know more about Kevin Enis go to:

Instagram / Behance