The combination of visual culture and an intense full-contact contact sport with a cult underground following kept her coming back to roller derby bouts.
Kingston-based art photographer Philippa O’Brien is poised to publish an important book that chronicles the New Zealand roller derby scene.
New Zealand was the first country outside the USA to pick up the sport and since the first bout between leagues in 2007, roller derby has seen incredible growth here. Over 40 leagues now actively play the sport in New Zealand.
Skateface is the product of five years spent visiting leagues throughout the country and photographing skaters on a medium-format Hasselblad film camera. What started as a project for O’Brien’s Diploma in Photography, ended up as a conceptual series documenting a critical point in the evolution of roller derby.
When O’Brien happened upon the scene in 2011, roller derby was undergoing a transformation.
“I was initially attracted by a series of posters in Cuba Street advertising an upcoming bout. It was a playing card design with two captains of Richter City Roller Derby as queens. It was sassy and immediately grabbed me.”