Ai Weiwei and Shepard Fairey Give Trump The Finger With New Deck Designs for "The Skateroom"

by Sid Feddema

Ai Weiwei and Shepard Fairey are no strangers to political confrontation, advocating for the disenfranchised, or making art in unusual modes. This makes them a perfect fit for the Skateroom's ongoing effort to support art institutions and non-profit projects that empower children by commissioning skateboard decks designed by high-profile artists. The timing was right--Trump has just reached the 100-day mark, which has been an ongoing source of fresh daily horror for those who care about the environment, healthcare, or the rights of immigrants and minorities--and the two artists were happy to use the platform to take a pot-shot at our President.

Ai Weiwei's "Study of Perspective: The White House" speaks for itself: a finger extended in the foreground shows the power of defiance, looming over the white house through the enlarging effects of perspective. It is a concise statement of Ai Weiwei’s political opposition, unmistakably and universally conveying the message.

Shepard Fairey's contribution, ‘No Future’, is just as charged, taking as its aim the hate-speech and propaganda delivered to an often uninformed or misinformed public. Shepard Fairey has been active in denouncing the antagonizing and fear-mongering vision of the new presidency through a poster campaign entitled “We The People” launched with the Amplifier Foundation on Donald Trump’s inauguration day.

Through the proceeds from these artworks, The Skateroom and the artists will be able to support non-profits of the artist's choice: Ai Weiwei has selected B’Tselem, an organisation which promotes respect for human rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories through a variety of means, and Halklarin köprüsü (Bridging Peoples), a non-profit charity and solidarity association based in Turkey committed to fighting all sorts of ‘otherism’, hate speech, discrimination, racism, nationalism, sexism and denominationalism.

On the collaboration, Ai Weiwei comments: “My favourite word is 'act'. I am partnering with the Skateroom for that very reason. During the filming of Human Flow, my documentary on the global refugee condition, I had the opportunity to speak with individuals from both B'Tselem and the Bridging Peoples Association in Turkey. What these two organizations do is very valuable to society, both in fighting against injustice and in helping those that are unfortunate.”

For his part, Shepard Fairey has commented: “The Skateroom collaboration is an evolution of the DIY silk screened skateboards I began making in the 90’s, as an art canvas that could go on four wheels or a wall. These new boards are more refined art pieces, but the spirit of skateboard culture is what drives this new collaboration. ‘No Future’ is a response to the election of Trump. My art is usually social and political regardless of who is in the White House, but my concerns and frustrations are amplified by the election of Donald Trump. I joked while Trump was campaigning that his slogan should be ‘Manifest Density’, a parody of ‘Manifest Destiny’, which was an embarrassingly egotistical pronouncement by rich white men that it was God’s desire for them to conquer ocean to ocean in the territory that would become the United States. Trump appealed to an uninformed electorate who looked for scapegoats and were driven by most likely one or more of the dark impulses listed in the image. I’m pushing for a future where those impulses have no place and definitely no traction. Let’s move forward, not backward!” 

Proceeds from his designs will go to support The Amplifier Foundation, a "visual media experiment dedicated to amplifying the voices of grassroots movements through art and community engagement." 

Both collections are available to buy exclusively from The Skateroom online store (theskateroom.com) and during Art Market San Francisco.

The Ai Weiwei edition (consisting of a Set of 3 skateboard decks)is available in a limited edition run of 666 hand screen printed 7-ply Canadian maple skateboards at $666. The first 66 will be hand signed by the artist priced at $3,000 each.

The Shepard Fairey edition (consisting of a Set of 3 skateboard decks) is available in limited edition run of 450 hand screen printed 7-ply Canadian maple skateboards. The set is priced at $450. 

Written by Sid Feddema