One of Kiva gallery’s favourite artists and all around maverick Douglas Miles is on a roll right now. And yes, that is a pun on his skateboard company Apache skateboards. We’re seeing his skate decks all over the place these days – on the cover of American Indian magazine, at Epcot center, Disney World – as part of its’ first exhibition of Native American culture and history, and in a fantastic short film released earlier this week. The film is called “The Mystery of Now” and was directed by Audrey Buchanan. Besides filmmaking, Buchanan styles herself as an professional interviewer who champions the importance of listening. We have written about the need for white people to listen more here on the blog, so we naturally think Buchanan is an excellent choice for presenting the voice of Douglas Miles.
The film immediately immerses the viewer in a mood reminiscent of Terrence Malick – setting slow camera movements around San Carlos to ambient sounds and a calm and thoughtful voice-over. The voice belongs to Douglas Miles and when he kicks the film into motion by urging “let’s do something God – let’s make something”, you know he means it. The entire theme of the film revolves around skateboarding, but you come out of the film with the sensation that you have watched something more profound than a skate video. Skate videos are usually not very emotional but this one is. That’s because Douglas Miles and the kids on his skate team view skateboarding as such a positive force that it almost takes on a spiritual dimension. It’s not just about the tricks – although we do get footage of some radical skate action and Miles’ son Doug Jr. looks like he can rip with the best of them. “We had the bow and arrows, now we have skateboards” says a member of the Apache skate crew named Tasha which sums up the constructive function skateboarding has in the culture of San Carlos. Another member of the team talks about how skateboarding has brought them all together to have feasts like they had in the past.
“The Mystery of Now” arrives with great timing. In a week that has been medially dominated by videos of a bunch of kids in MAGA hats being complete assholes to a Native American elder at Lincoln Memorial, it’s nice to counter the venom by seeing some kids that can find community around something positive. Too bad “The Mystery of Now” is not likely to get the same viral spread as the MAGA-kids video.
Oh, and a delightful bonus is that Powell Peralta skate legend Tommy Guerrero makes an appearance in the film.