Performance art is supposed to provoke. It’s experimental and challenging in a way that can, quite honestly, come off at first glance as a bit pretentious. Take, for example, this full video we have of the Gonz cruising around New York City’s Milk Studios.
In a cross-emblazoned fencing suit, skateboarding’s patron saint of weird pushes and pumps and coffins around a bright-white museum on an oversized skateboard.
It’s an odd performance, and, if it wasn’t the Gonz performing it, it’d probably be making an appearance on @whyidontskateboard instead of on nearly every skate site.
But it is the Gonz, so let’s take a minute to deconstruct what the hell is going on here.
Back in 1998, the German artist Johannes Wohnseifer tapped the Gonz to come up with a bit of skateboard choreography for an exhibition he was having at the Städtisches Museum in Germany. Wohnseifer thought it’d be cool to have a skater do their thing around the museum’s million-dollar Warhol paintings and Beuys sculptures.
The Gonz, who was taking ballet classes at the time, took the challenge and added his own commentary in his clothing, wearing a padded-fencing suit with the Hawaiian word “aloha” written on the back. (Surfing was once an elitist activity reserved only for royalty in Hawaii, and by alluding to that history Gonz is bringing up the privatized pretention of the art world, or something like that.)
That avant-garde performance in 1998 confronted expectations of what skating could look like in the stuffy confines of a fine art museum, and advanced the act of skateboarding from mindless fun to a sort of cultural critique.
Now, twenty years after that performance, the Gonz recreated that magic in New York. His suit is black now instead of white, and the choreography is slightly different than it was in ’98, but the Gonz’s style is timeless and, this time it doubles as a re-release of the Adidas shoes he was wearing in the original performance.
While a little 3-minute commercial of the thing is already out, you can check out the full performance filmed by our man in the streets, Raspa, and decide for yourself how much magic there is in the rehash.