The Useless Tool

There are two questions at the center of this collaborative fellowship between Kyle Beachy, Tina Post, and Alexis Sablone: What might skateboarding offer to the pursuit of the humanities? What might the humanities offer skateboarding? Building off of each collaborator's respective expertise in movement, performance, narrative, and architecture, The Useless Tool will function as a platform to focus on and experiment with such core components of skateboarding as ethics, style, failure, destruction, and repurposing. 

What might skateboarding offer to the pursuit of the humanities? What might the humanities offer skateboarding? The trio behind The Useless Tool believes strongly that the embodied, perceptual, and dialogical practices of skateboarding, along with the networked values and relationships generalized as “skate culture,” hold potentially profound value to non-skate fields, including but not limited to pedagogy, community organizing, art making, and the performances / individuations of contemporary selfhood. Their shared curiosity to see what happens when skate components are pushed even further afield of their traditional context drives this fellowship. By utilizing their strengths in visual culture and the built environment, Kyle Beachy, Tina Post, and Alexis Sablone hope to be a conduit for the humanities to assert their use and value to skateboarding’s vibrant international subculture via a series of embodied experiments that will play out in the classroom and culminate in a collaborative performance. This fellowship builds off a 2022 symposium co-organized by Beachy, Post, and Sablone also called The Useless Tool.

SPRING 2023 COURSE: Performing Skateboard Poetics: Style, Motion, and Space | ENGL 20566/TAPS 20420
Wed 01:30 PM-04:20 PM
Midway Studios 112 (Gray Center)
Co-taught by Gray Center Fellows Tina Post (UChicago: English and Theater & Performance Studies), Kyle Beachy, and Alexis Sablone.

Course description: Performing Skateboard Poetics considers the social poetics of skateboard culture, with special attention to style, motion, and physical space. The course will feature film screenings and panels on embodied style, narrative, time, and the built environment, along with skateboarding's anti-scarcity and communal structures that both subvert and reframe capitalist competition. Students will produce a short performance work as the culminating project of the class.