Paul McCARTHY Tree skateboards
14/06/2021

New Collaboration with Paul McCARTHY for Highsnobiety’s NOT IN PARIS 3

The Story

The ‘Tree’ that shook the branches of Parisian culture makes a triumphant comeback at Highsnobiety’s ‘Not In Paris 3′.

After long-time The Skateroom partner and iconoclastic artist, Paul McCarthy, had his huge inflatable “buttplug” ousted from Paris’ Place Vendôme in 2014, it seemed that, for ‘Tree […]’, this was destined to be a tragic finale. That is until today. Now, together with Highsnobiety, The Skateroom x Paul McCarthy are delighted to unveil a limited edition celebrating the artworks triumphant return, in aid of Skateistan South Africa. That’s a happy ending we can get on-board with.

Tree, Place Vendôme 2014
Paul McCarthy

LIMITED EDITION OF 100

The story of Tree, Place Vendôme 2014, isn’t one you’d forget in a hurry. Nor is it one that McCarthy has let go. 24-ft high, Christmas green and shaped like a buttplug, Tree[…] was briefly installed in the Place Vendôme in Paris in October 2014 as part of the Hors les Murs exhibition at FIAC. 

Now, McCarthy is no stranger to controversy in his work, with previous pieces celebrating the defamation of icons and myths that earmark Western consumer capitalist society. Snow White, George Bush, Pinocchio, can all count themselves victims of his signature brand of iconoclasm. 

However, not even McCarthy expected that less than a day after its installation his work would be gone – left in a deflated heap. Despite Tree, Place Vendôme 2014 receiving full approval from the relevant organisations overseeing public art installations in Paris, even before the piece was destroyed McCarthy himself was accosted by a member of the public, who slapped him in the face before running off. 

“When they tore it down, I just said well that’s it. Nobody needs to push that issue. I didn’t understand or realise that it would become this social media phenomenon, that was a complete shock to me. But I’m okay with it. Anyway, now we can do something new with it… At some point the Christmas joke won’t be relevant, but these skateboards will last a long time. Anyway, a few years later we put it up in Los Angeles in Paramount Ranch and they loved it.” – Paul McCarthy

We didn’t like that ending. And with our collaboration with the LA artist already celebrating $200,000 of funding for Skateistan South Africa, this was the perfect opportunity for another push. This time in tandem with the aptly named Not In Paris 3 exhibition by Highsnobiety, a digital reimagining of Men’s Fashion Week, usually held in the French capital. On June 16th 2021, McCarthy x The Skateroom unveils the “banished” work once again. This time as a limited edition skateboard triptych which will continue to fund Skateistan’s operation in South Africa, helping them to adapt and accelerate into the post-pandemic reality. 

“When you’re living in the inner city, there are so many things you are at risk of – especially for young girls. It was an amazing thing to see that out of literally nothing, there appeared this island of refuge for all the kids Johannesburg. It’s thanks to the support of our partners and the communities we work with that this place was built, and survived through the pandemic. With that same support, we continue to support these young people through the skate-, lifestyle- & leadership-sessions, as well doing simple things like providing daily meals.” Mbali Mthethwa, General Manager – Skateistan South Africa

With all the difference the McCarthy x The Skateroom collaboration has already made to the work of Skateistan in South Africa, we expect Tree[…] to garner even greater support at Not In Paris this year. The lockdown meant many of the young people were unable to attend Skateistan, so this collection comes at the perfect time to launch the South African program into excellence as COVID-19 slowly releases its stranglehold on the world. 

“Skateistan made sense to me. I liked how Oliver went to Afghanistan not as a professional, and he just began this thing. This felt exactly how the skate world was supposed to be. He just did it, and it evolved into other places like South Africa. And then you see the women and girls skating, there’s no gender barrier here – I like that. It just works.”Paul McCarthy

Interview of Mbali Mthethwa – General Manager of Skateistan South Africa

We are excited unveil this new collaboration with Paul McCarthy for the third edition of Not In Paris by Highsnobiety. Watch here below the launch video we made in Paris for the event.

You never know what you’re going to find on the streets of Paris. Great skate spots, sure – but a massive inflatable buttplug? With our new augmented reality snapchat filter you can follow in the footsteps of Sam, cruising through the French capital in search of Paul McCarthy’s huge inflatable ‘Tree’ in the Place Vendôme.

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