Émile Phaneuf, Stick-in-the-Mud?, 2021
Wood, paint and Bondo, 72 x 36 inches (183 x 91.5 cm)
The set of skateboarding manoeuvres performed on minimalist volumes can easily be transposed on the curbs, banks, rails and ledges that compose the urban relief. Stick-in-the-mud? bears the distinct marks of skateboarding; similar networks of dark scribbles are found in the urban landscape. Then what is deemed damaging property is in fact the index of accumulated tricks attempts on found obstacles across the city. Urban planners tirelessly try to prevent the spread of these dark scribbles. It is a matter of perspective, however. Instead of being labelled a de facto nuisance, these marks could be celebrated as equivalence to freedom of speech: freedom of movement. They are the cryptic symbols of a language read and written by skateboarders since the rise of street skating in the 1980’s and for generations to come.
Émile Phaneuf is a multidisciplinary visual artist based in Sutton, Canada, whose research focus on street skateboarding’s relationship to the city.
Building off an expanding portfolio of skateable artworks reminiscent of American minimalist sculpture, his recent creations highlight the unique mark-marking resulting from skater’s (re)claiming of urban space. All over town, they take mundane piece of architecture and turn them into sites of cultural significance.
In the last few years, Émile’s performances and sculpture works appeared at Somewhere Gallery, Art Matters festival, Art IC!, VAV Gallery, Galerie 2112 and many Concordia University student shows. In 2017, he was a resident artist for Les fenêtres qui parlent as part of the 375ft Anniversary of the city of Montreal celebrations.
His unbounded dedication to skateboarding got him a sponsorship from Beijing-based skateboard company Punk and Poet while studying in China in 2018-19.