PDN Photo of the Day

Urban Renewal: Photos of An Abandoned Warehouse Turned Skatepark

Photographer and filmmaker, Phil Jackson is also an avid skateboarder, who spends a lot of time in skate parks. His series, “Temporary Autonomous Aggro Zone,” photos of an abandoned building he and his friends are rebuilding into a skate park in Newark, New Jersey, is currently on view through July 27th at Marginal Utility Gallery in Philadelphia. Jackson received his BFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and since then has participated in multiple group exhibitions both domestically and internationally. His annual zine, “Borderline Retarded,” was featured on our Tumblr, PDN’s Promos We Kept.

Jackson wrote the following about the skate park and his photographs of the project: “The Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, NJ, is home to scrapyards, feral cats, and a small group of friends I have met through skateboarding and travel. These photos document some of the things we’ve been involved in over the past two years—mostly building concrete ramps in an abandoned building down the street.

“The spot, nicknamed ‘Shorty’s’ after the warehouse’s sole tenant, is housed in a condemned factory on contaminated land. In photographing the process, I’ve been thinking about the concepts of work, value, and the many uses of urban space. An abandoned factory taken over as a place of recreation—the crumbling cinder blocks, old tires, trash and detritus, now repurposed as the foundation for a new environment. Taxing manual labor (ex. carrying 80 pound bags of concrete), is still happening in the space, but with the goal of creating a place to ride a skateboard (essentially, a child’s toy).

“I often think about what this seemingly Wild West style neighborhood will look like in five or ten years. I hope these photos will someday have historical value, their meaning changing as both the neighborhood and our renegade construction project continue to evolve.”


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