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Morgan Ashcom: Skatopia, anarchist paradise

Skatopia is a place of extremes. No wonder Morgan Ashcom (1982) chose it as backdrop for his fictional series Leviathan. Nothing is what it seems here.

12 October, 2016
Text: Guido van Eijck


Halfway through the 1990s a community of skateboarders began building a skate park in the mountains of Ohio in the United States. It started with a few cement ramps but grew into a complete skaters village called Skatopia. It became famous and notorious for the anarchy, the rough lifestyle of the hundreds of occupants and the exuberant parties and concerts that were held there. This is the backdrop for Morgan Ashcom’s fictional series Leviathan.

Between 2009 and 2012, Ashcom took these photographs in a setting where he recognised part of himself. He grew up on an isolated farm in the countryside of Virginia and was a skater for many years. In his photographs we see a man with an eye patch, a burning car, but also a whale’s tail, but nothing is what it seems.

Ashcom collaborated with the people he photographed to construct scenes with mythological and allegorical themes. In this way, he utilises photography to engage in storytelling. With Leviathan, Ashcom creates the illusion of a safe and secluded society. The land appears to be on the verge of some great change, just as it does in the myth of the great sea monster Leviathan.

BP2016 Morgan Ashcom lo-res 4

Morgan Ashcom