Photographer Explores South Africa's Female Skateboarding Scene
Fondly called a "Skatetisan", athlete-turned-artist, Louisa Menke's photography goes beyond capturing the sport that once marked her identity.
She sees people through a lens of a multi-cultural identity, which is what led her to get on board with documentary Get Used To It. The documentary focuses on a group of extraordinary South African female skateboarders who are united in their opposition to inequality.
Speaking about her inspiration as a photographer, she said:
"I look for things that grab my attention and go with ideas that stick around in my head and don’t go away. Telling the story is what I’m always searching for.
Skateboarding has been a big part of me for longer than half my life and it was the most important thing to me for a very long time. When I got into photography I decided to apply for art school and once I got in I decided to go for it.
After a while I came to a point where I could communicate to the others and make them understand my point of view, this made me realise how much skateboarding has influenced my identity. There’s a certain state of mind that lives within skateboarding and if you feel it, you will stick around."
This is clearly evident in the imagery of Get Used To It. Whilst featuring heavily in this documentary, Louisa created a vibrant series featuring portraits of local South African women and their surroundings. This series was turned into a limited edition magazine, titled: Colourful Hearts Filled With Rhythm and Rainbows No-one Can Dance The Way You Do.
Speaking to i-D about the magazine, she said:
"I wanted to tell a story that meant something. Exploring the city, I was fascinated by all the buildings there; you could read so much about the history of the city from them.
You saw houses that were fancy, but falling apart, highlighting the many problematic layers of class and wealth. People out there are living their day to day life, but the government is corrupt and there is this fucked up class system. The zine is an ode to a beautiful city, and the pictures are simply my observations."
To Louisa, her art is a question of privilege and how to pass that privilege on. Through her imagery, she wants to give back to young girls in a country where skating is not an ordinary option.
By Damilola Animashaun, published on 30/10/2017