• Skateistan, Noah Abrams
  • Posted 75 months ago by Jonnie Craig · Art & Design · 31248 Views
  • L.A. based photographer Noah Abrams recently traveled to Afghanistan to shoot a project about the emerging skateboarding scene there. He brought a handful of pro skaters to meet and skate with the locals in an attempt to squash some of our cultural differences.

    Hi Noah, what's up?
    Hi! It's a bit hectic, I've been travelling and shooting pictures everyday for the past two weeks. Today is my only day off for the next week so I'm trying to prepare a few shoots and catch up on my life a bit. Overall it's good though, thanks.

    Cool. How did this Skateistan series come about?
    I was sitting in my bed surfing the Internet one morning and came across a video about skateboarders in Afghanistan. They were skating an old swimming pool that the Taliban had used to execute people in. It just struck me as one of the most positive things I had seen in a long time, especially out of Afghanistan.

    So what happened next?
    I started to do some research and came across a group called Skateistan who are doing amazing work for the kids in Afghanistan. After that I got really focused on finding a way to get over there and support them.

    I would imagine it to be particularly difficult to get to Afghanistan, how the hell did you get there?
    It's definitely not easy. From idea to actually travelling there took around eight months. Getting the Visas was the tricky part but we had some great support on the Afghan side. After all the organizing we had to fly from the US to Germany then finally to Kabul. It takes a little over two days to get there and we were on a weird travel high when we arrived.

    So the skaters you brought were fine with just going out there and seeing what happens?
    Well, no. I went out there with a few people first before I had even approached the skaters with the idea. I didn't feel comfortable asking people to go to an active war zone without having been there first. That allowed me to approach them with the all the positives and negatives, give them my opinion and allow them to make up their own minds.

    How did they react?
    I got some odd looks at first and there was some hesitation by a few people, but I don't recall anyone flat out declining. I think by nature skateboarders are curious and a lot more open to ideas that may be out of the ordinary.

    Who ended up going on the trip?
    Cairo Foster and I flew out there together and then Kenny Reed and Louisa Menke joined us in Europe. Maysam Faraj met us in Kabul.

    That's good to hear. So who are these two guys in the photo above?
    They were the security at one of the spots we skated. They actually opened locked gates for us to skate this bombed out palace. I mean, imagine that happening anywhere else! When we had finished skating, they thanked us for leaving our families to visit them in Afghanistan. It was a very emotional moment for everyone.

    Yeah, heavy.

    I never would have expected a group of skateboarders to be so warmly welcomed in Afghanistan of all places...
    Not to get preachy but at the end of the day, people are people. Culturally we may be very different but our goals are pretty much the same?we all want to be happy. No-one wants to suffer. This is why, for me, doing a trip like this is so important in the grander scheme of things. It's that cross-cultural dialogue that will hopefully help push things in the right direction for us all.

    That makes sense. What were the kids like at skateboarding?
    They were good for sure, considering what they have to live with from day to day. They are a tough bunch with no fears at all when it comes to skating.

    Do you think you'll go back and visit them again?
    I'd definitely like to.

    • Hey Noah, I am a friend of Skateistan and feel you are bending the truth heavily for your own interest! As far as I know, a film production brought the skaters to Kabul and flew you also in to shoot for them - but never got to see the outcome! I don't think Skateistan or the production appreciate you giving interviews and publishing photos without their consent!
    • Justin Frihling Posted 75 months ago · 179 Reply
    • He barley even discussed Skateistan, and why would they object to the article? All of his words were very positive and supportive and it was really great to see/hear another perspective on skateboarding in Afghanistan.
    • Jim Horn Posted 75 months ago · 106 Reply
    • I agree with Jim. nice interview guys.
    • amy Posted 75 months ago · 154 Reply
    • i think this is great. production, interview object...cmon....its right there ! its hope ! congrats man...keep it up, id really like to hear, see, and read more about this
    • tata Posted 75 months ago · 156 Reply
    • I had seen photos of a so called skatepark in Afghanistan & I appreciate the "street" stuff shown here...
    • ilir sopa Posted 75 months ago · 142 Reply
    • With all due respect, an article like this makes me vomit! Noah Abrahams is an impostor, nothing more! He was flown in with the skaters on behalf of the production company which produces the movie about Skateistan. Noah was supposed to shoot the skaters for the production company and for Skateistan - the project for the kids of Afghanistan. He refused to deliver any pictures for any of those parties. Now he runs around posing as the saint on the backs of the people who risk their life in a war zone... great!!! Well done Noah!!!! Believe me, I was in Kabul when he was there and Noah is a persona non grata at the Skateistan house. But what ever his problems may be, it is even more disturbing that a magazine conducts an interview with someone without checking any facts. It's truly embarassing.
    • From someone who was there. Posted 75 months ago · 123 Reply
    • A wise person once told me that arguing on the internet is about as intelligent as pissing in the wind, but since I'm a Photographer, and not a genius, and since the credibility of HUH. and Jonnie Craig have both been called into question, I feel obligated to respond to the post below. So to that end... 1. I was never, and have never been employed by any production company or Skateistan, nor am I, or have I ever been under any obligation to provide images to either party. However, since you claim to have been in Kabul when I was there, and went out of your way to post an anonymous comment in response to the interview, I would assume you have proof otherwise? If so, I would love to see it. You can reach me on my website under "Contact". 2. I stand by this interview and everything stated within as 100% accurate. 3. You may want to look into using spell check. For everyone else who enjoyed the interview and images, thank you very much for taking the time to check it out! NA
    • Noah Abrams Posted 74 months ago · 126 Reply
    • Great pictures! Thanks for the positive perspective on Afghanistan culture.
    • Tina Posted 74 months ago · 148 Reply
    • isn't the point of this to shed some light on a bunch of suppressed and downtrodden kids who've managed to find a tiny, uplifting outlet in an otherwise bleak existence? i feel like the focus should be on the fact that Noah and everyone involved in this project spearheaded an unusually positive contribution to society - as opposed to it being all about who deserves the credit? are you worried his interview is scooping your cause in some way? but i guess helping these kids can only come from one outlet and NA shouldn't talk to anyone about his experience in Afghanistan 'cause that's really doing a lot of harm in the world. get your fucking priorities straight and stop spreading hate.
    • Johnny Thunder Posted 74 months ago · 117 Reply
    • I second Johnny's comment. You 'official helpers' are self obsessed assholes.
    • Brynn Lightning Posted 74 months ago · 132 Reply
    • Noah Abrams is a fucking douche bag who screwed over the Skateistan organization after they welcomed him in to their home.
    • From someone else who was there. Posted 72 months ago · 101 Reply
    • Really good photos,
    • really Posted 60 months ago · 128 Reply