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Hump Day Cool Finger: Your Mercury Ocean Skateboard by Olafur Eliasson for Mekanism


Olafur Eliasson’s Your Mercury Ocean skateboard deck. Image courtesy of Mekanism.

Mekanism is a company that “gives contemporary artists carte blanche on skateboards”.  Having worked with a host of contemporary artists and designers to create somewhat conventional decks they are now working with Dano-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, whose creations embody an elegant if not sometimes implacable fusion of art and design disciplines, on a series entitled “Your Mercury Ocean.” Generally the project, which looks great, is being talked about with ardor, some however are not so fooled by shiny stuff.

Instead of a standard 7-ply deck the Your Mercury Ocean decks are made from 13-ply. This extra thickness, which is more reminiscent of old school cuts or modern long boards (although most long boards only amount to 9 or 10-ply), allowed Eliasson to mill a 3d pattern on it. There are those, however, that feel this might be impractical as unless a lighter wood is employed the board risks being too heavy for most tricks and the ripple effect will almost certainly interfere with slides before it gets scratched off. This latter point brings us to the main source of distension regarding this artist designed deck, which is that aside from paying through the nose for a deck whose thickness, and by association functionality, is more akin to what you would expect to pick up at Target, something so beautiful belies the purpose of a skateboard, which of course is to be used, and so ruffed up.

In many ways its true that this impeccable object, worthy of the Silver Surfer, does seem to exceed its peers (other artist designed decks) in terms of beauty, rarity and craft, and unlike many other artist designed decks that are merely decorative, Eliasson’s does at least venture further into a contemporary art realm by pushing the way in which we understand reality through tangible means – in this case water to represent the vocational fluidity of an otherwise static structure – beyond the formal conception of phenomena, however, despite the fact that his water is admittedly more ‘fresh’ than ‘deep’ there are many who would argue that skateboarding is about skateboarding, and not some artistic statement. As one commenter commented “They gonna make rippled wheels next? You guys remember slick bottom decks, and what happened to them? At least there was some functionality in mind with their design, this is just some parlor trick shit.

While the Your Mercury Ocean campaign, which references previous sculptures made by the artist, carries added meaning considering his seldom involvement in commercial products, one has to ask does this enhance Eliasson’s practice, or somehow undermine it? The same question could also be asked of his Starbrik, which would look quite at home in an IKEA showroom display.

Only 90 limited edition Your Mercury Ocean decks have been produced and will soon be available through the Mekanism Skateboards webstore.

This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.


  • Richard Haden

    Well… it appears to be a very transparent board. A “partial object” in that it is more than a skateboard; it’s also a referent; a rolling signifier; or perhaps an argument about the problems of an over stacked deck. It’s transportation and it’s a tool for the street acrobat. These days it’s also the artist’s way to make it over the edge and scratch the itch under an annoying economic (for)cast.

    Is it the industrialization of art or is it industrial art design or is it merely the mix-up of art and design. At least there are no boring ergonomic issues here…as might be the case behind flimsy IKEA design… It just looks like this skate board deck is designed for all those seeking a little bit more out of an aesthetically relational ride…Hell, surely even Jesus, whose claim to fame rest partly on walking on water, might, if he were around today, take pause and go for a ride. So as far as this slice of aquatic mimickery goes I’m sure there are enough wanton aesthetes who would take this stacked deck for a glorified ride, hoping to catch the aura of sublime posturing. At the end of the day isn’t it just a matter of how wet the sweat is on a cotton T or how high and dry a board hangs looking pretty on a wall.

  • Nick Arehart

    I think the question of whether or not this is practical as a skateboard is unimportant. When you attempt to converge two subcultures like art and skateboarding in an effort to create something new, that product is neither wholly grounded in the ideology of one group or the other. It has to be judged on its own merit. I don’t think you’d ever see this deck in the MOMA and you certainly wouldn’t be able to buy one at your loacal skate shop but can you look at it and make out the features of its cultural ancestors? I believe its ethnology is clear and that is a success.

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Hump Day Cool Finger: Your Mercury Ocean Skateboard by Olafur Eliasson for Mekanism