Lives of Deckadenceby Samora Chapman / 22.06.2011
It’s Friday night. An orange moon rises over Durban city, as I free-wheel along Umgeni Road with my head out the window looking for gallery 415. It wasn’t hard to spot, as a two story projected image flitted on the side of a building lighting up the industrial glum that borders the central train yard and the inner city… a 15 foot skater kick-flipping in slow motion… it’s the aptly named “Deckadence” exhibition opening and the ‘it’ kids are flocking. The projection works its magic drawing hundreds to the place. Glory to the anti-heroes!
Inside, skate shoes hang from the ceiling cos we cool like that and a speaker emits the iconic sound of a skater rolling for the authentic ambiance. The clickety-clack of the olly and the ‘sword out the sheeth’ schwing as the axle kisses steel. Someone let a wayward graffiti kid get loose with fat-cap tags…but hey it’s all art.
The walls are graced with a selection of pics from SA’s top skate photographers. Gavin Morgan, Tyrone Bradley, Wayne Reiche to name a few. Images from the lives of the dirty yet decadent… cigarettes for breakfast, roaming the streets on a mission with marmalade grazes and a hunger to find that next epic spot. Insert pics.
In the next room is a collection of skate decks painted by the likes of Skullboy, Senyol, Tokyo-Go-Go, Kronk and other Verb designers. A middle-aged man with purple-wine teeth broke the fun by shouting “does anyone want to buy some art” in a threatening, boisterous sort of way. This was followed by silence. “If you do, then speak to this lady of here,” he continued pointing at a coy lady in a black dress. People don’t have money for art man, there’s a recession, but the bar is so crowded I can’t get a drink.
Anyway, time was ticking and I got sucked into an in-depth, one-sided conversation about these new drugs kids are taking now day. Jeez, I’m 26 but sometimes I feel like an old man. My young friend was enlightening me on all these great new developments and psychedelic dimensions. He was wearing a satin red bomber jacket with original weed leaf symbolisms and loosely referencing The Teachings of Don Juan, peyote, ephedrine and some danger danger new shit called… fuck I dunno but it it’s the shit dreams are made of. I mean your brain makes it when you dream and now it’s being packaged and sold to kids like candy. You have several lifetimes worth of dreams in half an hour. “I dunno if I’m ready for that yet man,” said the young astronaut. “I’m just loosening up my mind with acid and shrooms to get it onto that spectrum.” Jesus. I disappear off the scene for three months and now there’s ‘dream drugs’. I told him to go check out those vittokes that beg on the corner of Umgeni and Argyle. They’ve got the thousand yard stare and they never stop dreaming.
Funny how skaters get on the tip to get more trashed than anybody else. I guess it’s the Deckadence. Skaters and rockstars. It’s a culture of pain.
*All images © Samora Chapman.