Temporary Autonomous Aggro Zone


6 June – 27 July 2014

Opening reception 6 June 6-10pm

Marginal Utility is proud to present an exhibition of lens based works by PHIL JACKSONRICK CHARNOSKI & COAN BUDDY NICHOLS.

The title of the exhibition references the essay TEMPORARY AUTONOMOUS ZONE by the anarchist poet/theorist Hakim Bey, and the column AGGRO ZONE from the Transworld Skateboarding magazine written by the professional skateboarder Neil Blender in the mid 1980’s.

Rick Charnoski & Coan Buddy Nichols’s collaborative film Fruit of the Vine (1999) opens with silent intertitles that state:

‘Today you see skateboarding everywhere you look. These are some stories about skateboarding that you never get to see.”

Fruit of the Vine is a travel film in the spirit of the classic surfing movie The Endless Summer (1966). Instead of searching for Edenic shorelines, Charnoski & Nichols document themselves and a varying band of skateboarders seeking out and skating abandoned backyard swimming pools. Steve Alba, a deeply respected veteran professional skateboarder explains that ‘every pool is a different adventure. It’s like hunting. It’s like everything has a different way to deal with it, a different set of rules.’ Pool skating often occurs on private property and is illegal. An abandoned pool becomes a Temporary Autonomous Zone where a ‘guerilla operation which liberates the area (of land, of time, of imagination)” until the site becomes known to the authorities “and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere / elsewhen, before the state can crush it.” The band moves to the next empty pool to “clandestinely and carry on with its festal purposes for quite a while in relative peace” for as long as they go unnoticed.

Charnoski and Nichols are both accomplished pool skaters that session with the people that they film. Through friendship and trust, they have access to a band of skaters that are often under-represented in the mainstream skateboard media. Bey writes that a “band is open- not to everyone, of course, but to the affinity group, the initiates sworn to a bond of –friendship- … The band is not part of a larger hierarchy, but rather a horizontal pattern of custom, extended kinship, contract and alliance.” Fruit of the Vine presents not only a collection of Temporary Autonomous Zones but also the tight knit relations between those that are committed to skating illegal and DIY terrain.

Bey states that “certain small TAZs have lasted whole lifetimes because they went unnoticed because they never really intersected with the Spectacle, never appeared outside the real life which is invisible to the agents of Simulation.” Skateboarder built TAZs have spontaneously sprouted up through out the country and the world in “no man’s land” locations on the edges of society. Over the past two years Phil Jackson has been documenting and building concrete ramps in an abandoned building in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark New Jersey with a small group of friends who he met through skateboarding and travel.

The spot , nicknamed “Shorty’s” after the warehouse’s sole tenant, is situated within a condemned building on contaminated land. The abandoned factory has been taken over as a place of recreation: crumbling cinder blocks, old tires, trash and detritus have been repurposed as the foundation for a new environment. Taxing manual labor, like carrying 80 pound bags of concrete, is still being done in the space, but with the goal of creating a place to ride a skateboard. Jackson states that through “photographing the process, I’ve been thinking about the concepts of work, value, and the many uses of urban space.”

Jackson, Charnoski and Nichols produce visual culture for those who are invested in these adaptive and autonomous approaches to skateboarding. By giving form these tendencies they are re-presenting for others outside of their peer networks the “TAZ microcosm of the “anarchist dream” of free culture.” Perhaps one “can think of no better tactic by which to work toward that goal” than by the act of draining an abandoned pool or building a DIY skate spot, “while at the same time experiencing some of its benefits here and now.”