For most kids across the world, pursuing a career in skateboarding can begin in and end in Southern California, but for Creation Skateboards pro Kenny Reed, that’s just a few pins on his world map. Reed’s career took him to California, but his path hasn’t been about pursuing corporate sponsorships or winning contests–his passion for skateboarding is his language.
Recently relocated in Hudson, NY, Reed has earned the nickname “The Traveler,” eschewing the Cali path to explore. Shanghai, China; Minsk, Belarus; Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and Vladivostok, Russia are all places he’s rolled through, often being the first skateboarder the city has seen, especially in his many trips to the Middle East.
In 2009, Reed was invited on a skate trip to Afghanistan, as the NGO Skateistan was just getting started. Like Reed, Skateistan’s goal is communicating through skateboading, throughout Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. Reed and Louisa Menke started snapping photographs on that trip, as they cruised the streets of Kabul. Those images have now been compiled into a hardcover book titled Some Time to Smile, which will be released tomorrow at the Marlborough Broom Street art gallery.
Among those images shot in 2009, many are of Afghanis trying out a skateboard for the first time. “People are fearless the first time they step on a board,” Reed said. “Some of the pictures are of kids, but there are also a lot of shots of Afghan army soldiers standing on a board, still holding their weapons, which probably the safest thing to do.”
Reed returned to Afghanistan in 2012, and plans to go back, noting that despite it’s unpredictability, it’s one of his favorite places on earth. Like the non-profit Skateistan, from which proceeds from the book sales will benefit, Reed sees skating as a cultural olive branch–a way to explore and make friends. “You get a welcoming feeling from the locals when you’re out there skating,” he said. It’s a lot different than the military personnel or contractors they’re used to seeing.”
“Some Time To Smile” release party May 2 from 6-8pm. Proceeds from sales will go to support Skateistan. Marlborough Broome, 311 Broome St. @kennyreedo @skateistan