Profile: Atiba Jefferson

Atiba Jefferson: Lonely Wanderer
Skate photography can be limited by its environment: incandescent street lights, pedestrians, and handrails among other urban barriers. This particular craft compensated for these obstacles and maximized action and consequently took the form of fisheye perspective, oblique ground angles, and wide panoramas. Contemporary practice has become so perfected that street images have attained a studio finish of painstakingly perfected lighting and dramatically staged composition. Atiba Jefferson, beginning as a self-taught hobbyist photographer from small town Colorado, entered the field at this pivotal moment becoming a major influencer in this aestheticization of digital skateboard photography. Andrew Reynolds suspended in mid-execution of his Frontside Flip in Vancouver surrounded by an innumerable wall of ragged spectators is frozen at the apex frame, decisively timed and impossibly composed. This image has since compounded Reynold’s mythologization, and in turn, lives in the collective experience of what it feels like to watch someone “land it.” It’s also a reminder that there’s still an instinctual value and awe with using photography as a way of preserving an ephemeral, and for a lot of viewers, culturally monumental moment. Atiba has since photographed an impressive range of individuals of athletes and musicians who have attained a status of iconicity: Kobe, Animal Collective, Michael Jordan, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Tony Hawk, Tyler the Creator, Future Islands, RZA, Derrick Rose, Run the Jewels, Battles, 2 Chainz, Mark Gonzales, and so on.
What is more baffling is how someone arrives at the opportunity to photograph these people from such disparate industries; for Atiba, these occasions often occur out of chance rather than will. A backstage “hey” activates a network of social dominoes that eventually results in the moment when Explosions in the Sky’s Munaf Rayani holds a guitar ritualistically to the crowd, irradiated by beams of light and covered in a cosmos photographic grain, in a way that speaks to the shimmering/shattering gliss of the band’s music. Commercial or recreational, each image demonstrates the skill needed to render the particular affect of that instance and the attention necessary to convey the something of an innate quality of a person’s identity.
Atiba derives his practice from his subject. Panda Bear’s Lonely Wanderer, with its cascading keys and mantric vocals repeats, “If you...Look back...Would you...Look back...What have you done…Have you done...Was it...Was it Worthwhile.” Similarly, Lonely Wanderer can be taken as[a] a persistent, reflective, and fragmentary self-interrogation of achievement as communicated through the people that Atiba meanders around. Atiba is a photographer living and working in Los Angeles. He has served on the editorial staff for Transworld and is one of the founders of The Skateboard Mag. He has shoot for campaigns for Supreme, Panasonic, adidas and the LA Lakers. He plays keyboards in a band called The Goat & The Occasional Others and is co-runs a bar in LA. Lonely Wanderer is his third exhibition at HVW8, he has previously shown at HVW8 LA and HVW8 Berlin.
Join us along with Atiba Jefferson this coming Monday, 16th of March 2015 at WOAW! Store for a special exhibition.