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Illustration by Pattriz

10 questions with

Alan Maag


Introduction by Stuart Smith:

It takes a big man, to organise a skateboard contest in one of the prettiest most expensive parts of the Swiss Alps.  A BIG man, to invite a selection of Europes finest lunatics in high season, give them free beer and lodging,  and set them lose on a mini ramp to be the ‘entertainment’. BIGGER STILL, to break up a pillow fight amongst 20 of these lunatics next to the hotel lobby at 10pm in full view of some well-to-do hotel guests and still be smiling in the morning.


Alan Maag is a big man, in stature and in heart, and his passion for skateboarding, and all that comes with it means that he does not falter in the face of world pandemics, broken hotel rooms, or hospitalisations.

You could argue, to do this year after year, maybe he’s just a little short in the brains department ;)


Love you Alan, Thank you for everything.

Brief Introduction: Tell us about you and what you do. 

Born and raised near Zurich. I'd describe my work as doing artistic research with a focus on skateboarding. With one leg in the 'real'  world of its industry, media and culture and with one in the theoretical world of the arts. I mostly work with a photo camera and at the very moment I am admiring this illustration Patricia made for me so I could avoid getting a portrait of myself ;-)


What is the most memorable skate photo(S) you’ve taken to date and why?

I'd say an Ollie by Jan Solenthaler, because it went the longest way and because I still feel honoured that Raphaël Zarka, one of the most well reflected skateboarders in fine arts, chose it for his collection Riding Modern Art.


However, from a personal point of view it would be a Melon by Dino Brañdao, who at the time we took the picture was facing a heavy challenge, hadn't really skated for a while and was under the influence of medicine. To see how he just grabbed my deck and was able to express so much effortless style meant and means a lot to me. Especially since I am able to witness what an incredibly talented musician he has become despite all his challenges.


What’s the skate scene like where you live and are there plenty of spots to skate?

Quite diverse I think. I'm not into all parts of the scene, but most of the people I know are pretty nice. There's the Beast DIY with all their connections and there's a long line of incredibly talented tech skaters going way back. What kind of strikes me though, is that there's an abundance of untouched spots for the really creative skaters. I'm not saying that there are no creative skaters here, not at all. Most of them just skate the same spots though. Sox, if you read this, do keep our little project in mind. I still have the list.


What’s your involvement in LAAX and Team Trouble and how did the event go this year?  It looked insane….

Basically I organise the whole communication and creative direction of the Team Trouble. Together with my mate Cedi, who moderates and structures the event on sight, we grew this energy loaded three days of sessions in disguise of a competition. LAAX is a snowboard resort with a huge history, and they trust us to develop skateboarding as we think it should look and feel like - which is pretty rare. And since they have an interest to push skateboarding in Summer too, that's what we'll try to do more in future.


This years edition was a rollercoaster. Vans helped us expanding things so we invested a lot of time in curating the artistic aspects in music and art, as well as developing the webcast. Then one week before it went down the Swiss government enforced travel bans for the UK, Denmark, Belgium and Holland. Just for ten bloody days! So sixteen of the finest transition skaters and a part of the crew, including many good friends, had to stay home. And then half way through the comp we had to exchange the judges, DJ and other crew members. I dont know how we found so many people to jump in or switch their positions... The whole crew did such an amazing job, its unreal. I'm super stoked on the one hand, but on the other I have these moments where I realise how the whole session would have exploded if all lads could have been there... 


If you want to get a glimpse: we made a publication which should have also have been sent to a couple of skate shops in England via Solo Magazine. If you are lucky there are a few up on Palomino too..


Do you have any other interests outside skateboarding?

Skateboarding is an excellent mirror to reflect on theory related to the arts, our environment, philosophy or our society as a whole. So in my studies I do a lot of that. And I have a strong interest in the abstraction within photography and materiality, which I keep on following on the side with this kind of stuff:


Who are the Warriors? Not the film…

It's a plus 25 year old crew originally from Lugano, a region in the South of Switzerland, but spreading every year more throughout the country. I don't know if it was them talking Italian or their laughter, but some ten years ago their positive attitude and kindness kept me motivated and skating after getting really fed up with the negative vibes and sinister faces in Zurich at the time. They took me in, I made some really good friends and if I still go out taking pictures it's mostly with them.


Are there any new projects that you are currently working on?

I'm working on a publication for a Master of Transdisciplinarity in Arts. It's a bit tricky to explain, but I try to reflect the culture of skateboarding through the lens of a photo camera while combining my own artistic practices with thoughts from art, the urban studies, auto-theoretical writing and all those academic texts much smarter people than me wrote about skateboarding.


The Rollende Tonne, or the Rolling Barrel in English, is actually sort of a boiler room where I have the luck to reflect my thoughts. I deleted my personal account on instagram a while back, but that's where I kept a spot for experiments and I guess at one point will start to communicate my/our findings.


What advice would you give to any up and coming skate photographers?

Pay more attention to details around you. Skatepictures become repetitive after a while, but the t-shirt you wore, the stupid tags on the ramps, the young faces you had will be priceless in ten years. Print and hand on. DIY. And get close. Get fucking close.


What is your most prized skate related possession?

That could be an analog photo transfer on the bottom of a dry wooden fruit box by Nicolas Buechi. He's a main DIY head behind the Beast DIY and at the moment I bought it we were not really friends yet. I think he was surprised that I actually bought it, haha. It shows the Beast in its very early construction phase. What makes it really precious is that its so fragile and will probably fall apart in a few years.


Then, on the other hand, there was this one time I had a photo in Thrasher. They were so kind to send me a cheque over 150$, but when I wanted to cash it in the Swiss Banks just laughed and told me that cheques are a completely outdated system only the USA keeps using. Would have cost me over a 100 Swiss Franks to get it payed out and I would have had to open a new account at a specific bank... So I just kept it was reminder that I made it, hahaha.


What’s the best skate trip you’ve ever been on and why?

Our last summer trip together with the extended Lovenskate crew and our Swiss friends was pretty amazing. It felt unreal to somehow escape the lock-downs for one week. Stu wrote a beautiful text for that. It's where we claimed that Fullpipe in the Swiss Alps, where Sam did the Pivot Grab - twice!


But all in all I'd have to say the trip to Bulgaria with the Warriors in 2012 was the best I've ever been on. Despite the amazing hospitality, the energy of the crew and being able to discover a whole new culture so close to us,  I had this moment in Sofia where I realized that half the spots we skated had been covered years before by my heroes in Kingpin magazine. Cleck shops. Salata, Lukanka and Rakia. That was amazing


Any last words?

Yes. Don't be an asshole.

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