The photos in this show were taken by a kid with a camera.
This kid was a girl.
The girl was me.
I was a skater.
I was a girl skater.
It was the early 1980’s. It was New York City.
Everything in my life was still analog.
I don’t remember anything digital; even my clock radio had flipping numbers, like the departures board at Grand Central Station.
Most of my time was spent out on the street. Calling from a pay phone is how one got in touch and made plans to meet-up, otherwise you just knew where to go and hoped your friends would be out or maybe to meet new kids…
As a teen, I was naturally attracted to the evolving skateboarding scene, the underground aspect of street art/graffiti and punk/hardcore music. I found it all to be alluring and comfortable. My parents had no idea.
Back then, I was in my own world. Having the camera with me all the time (including unlimited film and the means to process and share prints) gave me pretense for being in any situation (even in the mostly boys-only skateboarding scene.) I wasn’t a daredevil skater but at least was cool and not a spaz. With my camera, I focused on seeing my world always as a composition of light, shadow and form. I was happy capturing action or stillness, it did not matter; but I compulsively captured my daily life.
I appreciated being in the moment. I didn’t question, I just reveled in each new experience. From just hanging in the park, finding a new skate spot, to watching Kung Fu movies at a stranger’s upper west side apartment, to playing the punk rock groupie in a Lower East Side squat or finding myself on stage at CBGBs in a mosh-free corner to photograph.
I thrived on living out the mystery of the day. I did not always have the best judgement but I followed my heart and my passion.
Along the way, I made some great friends. Some are still in my life, some are just memories, like a dream. Some are dead, and some friendships have been rekindled through this process. The list is long but I must mention a few of the noteworthy skaters, graffiti artists, photographers, and musicians who encouraged me to “just be me”: Pepe “Cochis” Torres, Charlie Samuels, Simon Benepe, Callum Benepe, Roger Miret, Vinny Stigma, Drew Stone, Andy Kessler, Enrique “Kid Panama”, and George Spencer (GREATBOXERS) to whom I am grateful for inviting me to be in this group show and inspiring me to continue with my work!
My current artistic endeavor is a journey of self-discovery. What stories can my images tell me now? How do I want to share them? Can I separate the personal nostalgia from the unique view from my world as I lived it?
And perhaps most interestingly, how do I un-blur the timeline? For ten straight years (as high school freshman to college grad), my life changed every four months, with the inevitable rotation of fall semester, spring semester and summer breaks. A lot happened and changed during the “80’s”. 1980 was a world apart from 1990, but I photographed in black and white the entire time. I’m going to see what happened!
Jessica Bard’s work is featured in award-winning skate and music scene documentary films:
Godfathers of Hardcore (Ian McFarland, 2017)
New York Hardcore Chronicles film (Drew Stone, 2017)
OG: the Harry Jumonji Story (Erica Hill, 2017)
DeathBowl to Downtown: The Evolution of Skateboarding in New York City (Coan Nichols and Rick Charnosky 2008)
Follow on Instagram @JessicaTylerBard