Photographer Claudio Majorana shows what makes Sicilian skating unique in a new exhibition.

Photographer Claudio Majorana shows what makes Sicilian skating unique in a new exhibition.

Claudio Majorana has photography in his blood. He is the third generation of his Sicilian family who have chosen to record their personal and family history on film. His grandfather’s incredible shots from the first Sicilian government delegation to the USA in 1957 were recently discovered and published by Leica, while Claudio’s parents photographed every bruise and scrape he picked up as a child, every inoculation and every first day at school.

Following in the family tradition, Claudio picked up his camera to document the recent spate of skate trips to Sicily. He was never the official tour photographer, but made friends with skate teams as they arrived, hung out with them and showed them the hidden delights of his homeland. As the action shots and tricks were already covered by the official photographers, Claudio focussed instead on the human aspects and attempted to discover what made skating on the island distinctive.

His work has been collected in a new exhibition, The Recent History of Sicilian Skateboard Tours, which is on display now at Eightball Store, Bassano del Grappa, Italy in partnership with Desillusion Magazine.

How did the The Recent History of Sicilian Skateboard Tours exhibition come about?
I’ve spent the past four years documenting most of the skateboard tours that have happened in Sicily. It was a good chance to practice my photography, meet new people and have new experiences without going too far from home. I wasn’t the official photographer on any of them so every time I found out that a team was here skating I’d ask them if I could follow them taking pictures and in exchange give them hospitality in my homeland. In the meanwhile I worked on other projects both in and outside of Italy. Recently I thought that it was time to do something with these tour pictures and that’s when the exhibition and a publication came about.

Why did you choose to start documenting Sicilian skate tours?

A few years ago I obsessively started asking myself a question: “What’s unique about skateboarding over here?” I felt that it was different to other places and I wanted to show that through my pictures. It wasn’t obvious for me to find out what was special about skateboarding over here. That’s when my work with skateboarding photography divided in two main parts.

On one side I was documenting the skateboard tours. On the other side the project “Mustarjancu Kids” kept me busy for two long years documenting the life of a group of kids from a small Sicilian village. This was a very interesting reality, considering the fact that these kids created a skateboarding scene in a place where skateboarding didn’t exist, in spite of their critical economic and family conditions.

Can you describe some of your favourite images from the show?
I think one of my favourites is Nick Jensen’s push. He was exhausted trying to land a trick. We were skating in a little southeastern village in Sicily. On that Lakai tour there were two photographers involved and both of them were patiently shooting pictures of the trick. I didn’t want to take the same picture so I walked around the block looking for something else.

As I got close to the area where Nick would pick up speed I noticed a ray of sun light lighting his face every time he would pass through it. It wasn’t easy to get it but I eventually got the shot I wanted to get. Mauro Caruso’s ollie reflected on water is another one I like. It was shot on a rainy day in our hometown skatepark which quickly fills up with puddles. Mauro is a true local over here.

Do you plan to take the show on the road? Do you have another exhibition in the pipeline?
Yes, I’m planning to take this exhibition to my island. Where each of those pictures were taken and where my home is.

When and why did you start shooting pictures?
As I kid I remember my father introducing me and my sister to photography. At home there was always a camera available we could use. My parents would take pictures of everything that happened to me and around me since the day that I was born. There are pictures of me having my first vaccination, my first day of school and they also had a special inclination to take pictures every time I would hurt myself. So basically I started using cameras very early on and it was a natural step for me to start taking pictures more seriously at the age of 19.

What is it you love about film photography?
I really believe that a film camera (with a fixed-focus lens) is the best teacher you can have. It’s not only about learning how the camera works. It’s more about the fact that you never see the final result until you process the film. That makes me work with a totally different approach. Whenever I grab my camera I know I’ll have to take into consideration composition, exposure, focus, timing and all those factors that make the final picture.

The idea of risking messing up something keeps me a lot more concentrated on what I’m doing. On the other hand digital photography looks too easy and boring to me. No dust, no scratches. Everything becomes more predictable. I shoot 99% of my pictures with film cameras because I prefer a risk instead of a certainty.

What are you passionate about – interests, hobbies outside of photography – and how does this inform the images you take?
I am a medical student and a skateboarder. Skating has always pushed me towards photography even though I never felt really interested in shooting skateboard tricks. I think they are covered enough (maybe too much) by some skateboard magazines. I rather prefer shooting skateboarding under a larger point of view.

As I mentioned before I’ve spent two years shooting a story about a group of kids who skate in a small Sicilian village near my hometown. Most of them had nothing. They would build their skate ramps with anything they could find (or steal) from the streets and they would skate with their shoes forever by repairing them with sellotape. In these two years I developed an instinctive protection for them anytime they would get into trouble or somebody would try to bully them.

That period coincided with when I got my internship in the Department of Paediatrics. I think right now medicine is influencing my photography and conversely photography is influencing the choices about what kind of doctor I’ll be.

What do you do for a living and how does photography fit into your life?
I’ll get my medicine and surgery degree in about a year from now. Photography just fits in, no matter what. Every day, every month and every year is planned in order to take care of both things.

Check out more of Claudio’s work or head down to Eightball Store, Bassano del Grappa, Italy to catch the The Recent History of Sicilian Skateboard Tours which is on display now until the end of April 2014, in partnership with Desillusion Magazine.

Check out the making of video here: