Vladimir Film Festival

James Craven: Pearls interview

20 / 9 / 2019 / Interview

In lights of Jim’s new video Pearls, and Henry’s photo exhib­i­tion doc­u­ment­ing this pro­ject that explores the European works of Span­ish archi­tect San­ti­ago Cal­at­rava, we asked them to sit down and chat about it all.

Photo Henry Kingsford

Pearls inter­view by Henry Kingsford

Q: I remem­ber you telling me about this pro­ject years ago. How long have you been plan­ning it?

A: It’s been a recur­ring idea that I have been talk­ing about and research­ing since my girl­friend Pip showed me a book about his work, which was about 7 years ago. She was study­ing archi­tec­ture at the time and kept show­ing me pages and say­ing “this looks like a good spot!”, and I would recog­nize so many of them from skate videos. I loved the idea of try­ing to tie all of these spots togeth­er in a pro­ject, but had no idea how to make it hap­pen really.

Q: How did it finally come to be made?

A: Car­hartt WIP came through! I hit them up last year after the ‘Hrin­gur’ pro­ject with a pro­pos­al, explain­ing what I was hop­ing to do and all the places we wanted to go. I knew it was a pretty stu­pid sound­ing pro­ject but they were on board right away! So, it’s mostly thanks to Joseph and Etienne at Car­hartt WIP that this finally got to hap­pen. I hope they are happy with the res­ult. Cheers guys!

Q: For those who don’t know, tell us a little about San­ti­ago Calatrava.

A: He’s a Span­ish archi­tect, engin­eer, sculptor and artist who is fam­ous for design­ing some really wacky build­ings and bridges all over the world.

Q: What are his main inspir­a­tions / references?

A: I’m cer­tainly no expert but it seems that a lot of his work is inspired by ana­tomy. Some of his build­ings are based on fish skel­et­ons and oth­er sea life. Part of his work in Valen­cia is designed to look like a human eye from a cer­tain angle, with the bot­tom half of the eye reflec­ted in water.

Photo Henry Kingsford

Q: Are you a fan of his work?

A: It’s def­in­itely inter­est­ing! It isn’t very prac­tic­al, but it’s real spec­tacle archi­tec­ture, espe­cially in real life. I think my main issue with his work is that his build­ings aren’t very sym­path­et­ic to their sur­round­ings, and they are often really sim­il­ar. It’s as if any one of his works could be put any­where, I don’t think he’s doing too much think­ing about how to make some­thing rel­ev­ant or suit­able for the place it actu­ally ends up. All of that said, I think the fact all of his work fol­lows such com­mon themes and looks so sim­il­ar is exactly why it works to make a film like this, so I shouldn’t really complain.

Q: What makes his build­ings so skateable?

A: The main reas­on is that there are almost nev­er any ver­tic­al lines in his designs. Pretty much everything is a bank or a trans­ition, and it is usu­ally that way all the way to the ground, which means you can actu­ally skate the forms of the buildings.

That’s def­in­itely not a com­mon trait in architecture!

Q: The film­ing trips were quite dif­fer­ent to most skate trips. Can you explain?

A: Haha! Well, most of these spots are in a city or coun­try where there is only one Cal­at­rava spot. So we have been head­ing to all of these places that are amaz­ing to skate, Bar­ceona, Seville, Ber­lin etc – only to skate one spot! They are usu­ally quite shit, too. Thank­fully all of the guys on the trips have been really under­stand­ing and up for it, it’s quite a big ask.

Q: Tell us about the film itself. What were you main goals?

A: I guess just to draw the link between archi­tec­ture and skate­board­ing. They are two things that are really deeply linked, but obvi­ously it isn’t always con­sidered. Cal­at­rava is quite an extreme example because his work is so out­land­ish, but pretty much every street spot in exist­ence was designed by some­body, and they prob­ably have no idea that the thing they drew in an office once could become renowned world­wide for some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent to its inten­ded use.

Q: How does it sit along­side Land, Island, Hrin­gur and Lanka? Could it be con­sidered part of a series?

A: I wouldn’t say so. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I def­in­itely see this as the start of some­thing new.

Pearls video was screened at the Brijuni island on Septem­ber 29th and Henry’s photo exhib­i­tion opened at Cva­jn­er gal­lery the pre­vi­ous day.