While skaters and cyclists become an everlasting part of pop culture representation, bladers fell off to the background. Italian photographer Pietro Firrincieli wants to show the gritty reality of the Blading scene to the world through his book, Blade Diary. He explains why the culture of bladers is more alive than ever. Blading has been a D.I.Y. culture since the ’90’s. When the trend boom was over, the businessmen left the market, so the industry came back to the roots and underground culture. “That event, which may seem disgraceful to some, is instead a precious gift to me,” says photograph Pietro Firrincieli in his following letter to the book. How such step back can be considered as a good one?

Background to the Diary

At the age of 11 Pietro got a pair of new rollerblades and all of a sudden he was travelling all around Italy with his parents, participating in contests and meeting other young bladers. It’s obviously became a huge part of Pietro’s live and promised to end never. But soon, life caught up with Pietro, and rollerblades came to lonely attic. He got into photography following his parents’ divorce, and began working in a commercial studio. At the time, he was grateful – but he couldn’t help shake the feeling that something was missing.

 

Adulthood and Exhausting

History tells us that after long crisis of world wars the beautiful time of freedom came to most of progressive countries. Nobody could expect that we will be fighting again to remember what it’s like “to be free”. The problem, which tries to rule the life and makes us suffer at nights, is now in our own heads. People suffer panic attacks even living full and wealthy lives. Others overwork till brain-fag and emotional breakdowns.

“Death scared me. I was scared of losing my life while doing something I didn’t care about.”

Pietro faced the problem too, and he writes, that he was satisfied but wasn’t happy: “Something meaningless. Trading happiness for satisfaction. And I decided to quit. Everything.” So the turning point came a bit later with a call from an old friend. Taking a leap of faith, he accepted his invitation to go to Winterclash, a radical blading event.

Pietro Firrincieli

Travel Essentials

Turning Point

Pietro was 26 when he returned, and after the trip to the blading event, he realised that he found what he had been missing. It was the sense of freedom and belonging blading had been offering him it since all those years ago. Such coming out wasn’t easy. No one in the family understood or supported those decisions, and Pietro has been left alone. “But I always had been, in fact,” he writes. “I was the only one who believed Blading was important. That being grown up doesn’t mean accepting an unhappy life and forgetting your dreams. Or who you are.” He quit everything and set out to document the scene he loved so dearly – mostly undocumented since its inception in 1996.

 

Blade Diary

Pietro’s project is not accompanying any official video release. However, the book is a real diary, documenting a year of his life as he quit his job and left his home to travel Europe, America and Mexico with some of the best bladers in the world. Through the year-long story of blading the book tells how to be independent and brave to live your own way.

The edition of the book have took two years. In that time Pietro have met different people from the international photography industry. Everyone agreed that the Blade Diary is an interesting story worthy of publication. However, Pietro was afraid that most of these people cared only about their self-interest without really understanding what the project’s about.

“I really understood that photojournalism can extend further than a commercial product. “

The Book is Changed

Nevertheless, some others were very interested and encouraging. Tiziana Faraoni supported the project for what it is, publishing it in the Italian magazine L’ Espresso. Another significant person in the project is Colin Pantal. Colin, in an honest way and with the right words, encouraged Pietro to write something meaningful about the pictures.

The idea was initially grate, because modern art reality scares people because of misunderstanding and a lack of interpretations, so such projection destroys any intentions to understand new art and culture of the day. Pietro changed the Diary and it became more than a photobook, but a book to be read.

“While travelling I’ve always brought a book with me <…> to “share thoughts” about the “no direction home” condition, and the clear feeling of the universe setting up amazing and unpredictable things which happen for you as soon as you let it go.”

D.I.Y. Street Culture

Xerox prints and posters belongs to D.I.Y. street cultures since the first zines appeared at the punk concerts in the ’70’s and Pietro used the same materials. D.I.Y. has a rough aesthetic and this was a conscious choice by Pietro as a way to maintain the authenticity of blading as a street culture.

He calls it a family album.

Any copy required Pietro printed on the full donation: he used all money to make a copy exist and have it delivered to door. But now it’s out on the internet and it’s possible to find the bladerskater’s inspiration online. “Blading has changed, and still is changing,” Pietro says. “The focus is shifting from danger to control, presence, awareness. We don’t really need something special anymore to perform. It’s how we do, more than what we do. The best place to blade is where your friends are.

Pietro gained an insight into various scenes and documenting some of the biggest events in the sport. There are some hilarious anecdotes involving some of famous skaters and an insight into the people who keep out industry going. Some of readers assume, that a copy in all its D.I.Y. glory may remind you of childhood or youth and when you became addicted to some real passion in the first place and just have been free.

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