Barghout - برغوت
By Tarek Effat - AUC, 2017
Skateboarding has increased in the Arab world (Mena region, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon and Dubai. The spread of the sport has found popularity in rural areas and cities like Dubai and Cairo, as well as places where conditions are toughest like Palestine. With the help of the internet and social media, skaters in the Mena region have built communities around the subculture and are getting more recognition worldwide.
As the skateboard culture grows rapidly and increases in popularity, the culture grows with it. Within that culture is art, in all it’s forms. Each board carries an artwork by artists and designers from all over the world. Graphic designers are paying more attention to the art form. Skateboard graphics serve as a way to identify skateboard companies from one another, through icons and logos. And the art and graphics represent the skate culture and the individual rider, while symbolism on boards sets group of riders from one another.
Skaters in the region and Egypt in particular suffer from the lack of resources and visual identity that represents their culture on the skateboards.
Western skateboard brands tried to create deck art that had some middle eastern elements to them so they can expand their markets, however the outcome represents the Middle Eastern and Arab identity in a very shallow way which miscommunicates the Arab skate culture.
Skating is one of the most abstract methods of transportation through a city, it allows you to experience the rough and tear of the streets while observing people in motion, the colors, the sounds, and the smell. In Cairo, this experience has yet to be expressed in that form.
Using skate decks as a canvas for a counter-culture narrative makes perfect sense. Skateboard decks are moving canvas for artist to represent their ideas, whether they are political, religious, controversial or fine art. Skateboards are a medium of communication in urban culture. “Barghout” is a skateboard brand inspired by the visual culture of Cairo’s youth. The deck art is done using a series of photographs of Cairo taken while skateboarding, and abstract illustrations inspired by the characters that skateboarders in-action see.