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Concrete Currents – Photographs by Arto Saari

Arto Saari is one of the most famous skateboarding professionals of the early 2000s. After leaving professional skateboarding, Arto Saari has immersed himself in photography. Concrete Currents offers a personal insight into the subculture called skateboarding.

Arto Saari started skateboarding in the early 1990s in the shade of buildings designed by Alvar Aalto in the centre of the city of Seinäjoki. After turning sixteen, he moved to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a career as a professional skateboarder. In the early 2000s, Saari became one of the most famous professionals in the sport. Saari was named Skater of the Year by Thrasher magazine in 2001. The title is recognised globally as one of the highest accolades that a skateboarder can achieve.

Skeittaaja uima-altaan reunalla

”The emergence of modern skateboarding has been influenced by two key factors. It all started with surfing, but another – less known influence has been Alvar Aalto’s freeform swimming pool at Villa Mairea, which resembles a kidney in its layout. Its influence led to the state of California in the United States becoming the Mecca of skateboarding. The Villa Mairea pool was built in 1938, and eight years later, the first kidney-shaped swimming pools were completed in California. When there were no waves at sea, surfers began to search for empty pools to skateboard in, because the curved edges of the pool resembled a wave.”

After leaving professional skateboarding, Arto Saari has focused on photography. His unique ability to capture raw emotion and energy in his photographs has quickly earned him international recognition. Arto’s photographs do not solely focus on skateboarding but also on street culture, music, and the humanity of life. His photographs convey a sense of freedom, rebellion, and beauty found in unexpected places.

Arto’s passion for the sport drove him to photography. It is typical of skateboard culture that tricks are always
photographed and recorded, so the transition behind the camera came naturally to Arto. Initially, the camera
accompanied him on his own skate trips, and Arto photographed not only skateboarders but also the environment and street culture. Later, photography took precedence and took over. Arto never thought of skateboarding or photography as a career choice; rather, his passion for the sport took over.

”It has been amazing to see how Alvar Aalto’s design has broken down barriers and created a new living organism. I don’t know what Alvar’s goals were when he designed the swimming pool at Villa Mairea, but ultimately it became much more than just a swimming pool."

Arto Saari lives on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, where he continuously gains experience and a better understanding of the sport that gave birth to skateboarding – surfing.

The Concrete Currents exhibition is produced by the Museum of Central Finland.