Colonial Surfer - The ReSearch is a project about the contemporary globalized world and power structures within the surf industry and its realm. Surfing is not just a sport but also culture, producer and distributor. In current discussions you hear about the post-colonial but the situation today is better described as neo-colonial. Surfers do travel a lot and sometimes to places unknown to other tourists. The way surfers behave and represent themselves in the adventures search of perfect waves has a lot in common with ancient colonizers and their roles. To surf maintain and conserve already existing structures. History.

Editor: Kristoffer Svenberg

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

12. The Global Village - Bali

 








The title The global village is taken from a book by Marshall McLuhan from 1968. I am researching the island of Bali as a global node of mediation. I am doing this through photography, focusing mostly on already existing images in public space.
Bali is an island where the effects of globalization are clearly visible. With this project, I depict and ask questions about the globalized information society. The project is about Bali, but at the same time about the world we all live in and share, but not in equal matters. The situation is far from fair. Bali is a small island where several of the world’s richest investors own land. Over time, more and more gated communities and fenced areas have been developed and built on the island. At the same time with those barriers and walls, there are ideas of freedom, liberalism, and boundlessness getting expressed and fabricated on this island in a neo-liberal manner.


When I organize a material of very many pictures that forms the basis of the project The Global Village - Bali, I use a program that does not operate perfectly all the time: the program freezes and the screen glitches. When I on one occasion could read Massage written in one of these glitches, I made a screenshot. Although I have read Marshall McLuhan, it was this picture that taught me that the title of McLuhan’s best-known book is The Medium is The Massage, not The Medium is The Message, which is his theoretical thesis and one of McLuhan's most famous statements. Although I know that the program malfunction, I continue to use it to generate more glitches to screenshot. The glitches are of importance since they show the interface of the images that is otherwise hidden in the illusion of the photographs. It is similar to when I photograph pictures and the viewer becomes aware of the surfaces of the images, the scratches and the materiality. They are not see-through images.














Sunday, September 6, 2020

13. The Backpack

 


27 March a backpack get placed on Charles de Gaulle airport in France around 14:30–15:00 as a deliberate act and an attack.

Charles de Gaulle is one of Europe’s most supervised airports. A person puts down and leaves a backpack in the airport. Before leaving, the person photographs the bag. This action shows the surveillance cameras that everything is intentional and that the backpack is not forgotten. The bag is closed and locked with a padlock in the zipper opening. This means that it cannot be easily opened. The backpack is meant as an attack in the airport.

“For security reasons, baggage left unattended will be removed and destroyed.”

Studies of art, photography, postcolonial theory and my own experience of traveling as a tourist in Asia are behind my decision to perform the action. I am convinced that the action is worth doing for a number of important reasons. Placing the bag like this at Charles de Gaulle airport can scare, shock and hurt individuals. A part of the airport may be blocked by the security guards and people on their way to or from their flights might be disturbed. The ethical problem of exposing other people to my actions is included in my calculations.

I justify the action with theories of how the system itself is so much more violent, wrong and destructive.

The contents of the backpack are pictures. These images consist of scanned material from travel brochures and travel commercials printed on photo paper and then cropped to a 10x15cm format. Nothing but a large number of these pictures lies in the bag. The selection is made to represent a typical representation of the world through a European travel commercial perspective. The backpack contains something that the tourism industry generates, images that constitute the current world order.

The security system, the structure, and the strictly disciplined architecture are tangible. I’m up in this with intentions about it as art. Flying with the bag containing only pictures is part of a performance work. Passing the bag through the X-ray machine at the airport worries me. Perhaps I will face suspicion and questions. I’m afraid to be remembered, or that security staff should notice this as something strange so that I can later be linked to the Charles de Gaulle airport attack and seized as a terrorist.
 
A performance work that asks questions about power-relations, representation, language, symbolic violence, and action. (Performance, text, video)

Friday, August 28, 2020

"- There are no locals in Bali"

Houses and hotels with sea views are highly valued. But if a house is considered to be isolated from a center, its economic value will fall. More recently, from a global perspective, statistics have shown the connection between houses located near good surf spots and a rising economic value.

Bali is a small island in Indonesia that has been completely transformed through the tourism industry. The mass tourism of this island began with wave surf tourism. And it’s a common saying that it started after the premiere of the surf movie Morning of The Earth (1972). The film contains footage from Bali as an unexploited beautiful and harmonic paradise with amazing waves. Bali has since developed into a Mecca for surf culture.
 
A lot of Balinese locals are currently protesting publicly against the extensive exploitation of the island. They point to the international tourism industry, the ruling economic elite and the political power of Jakarta as responsible. The problems that the locals address, among other things, are that they themselves become invisible, run over by the ruling elite, without getting their own say.

As an artist I explore colonial heritage and trends through a globalized surf culture. Is surf culture so dominant that in some cases it displaces other cultural expressions?
 
I recently met an established art curator (producer) from Jakarta, Indonesia. She did a presentation of her work in Stockholm, Sweden. One of her subject matters was Indonesia’s current relation to a colonial history and the colonizers.

During the presentation I wrote down notes and some questions to ask. My first question was about the protest-movement “Tolak-Reklamasi” in Bali. She didn’t really want to say or answer anything about this ongoing movement and she declared the Island to exoticized and too much of bad taste to discuss. My answer back was that the Island still exist no matter if you consider it bad taste or not.
In a critical part of a discussion that followed from this, the curator pronounces something very remarkable with stating these exact words: “There are no locals in Bali.”
I got stunned by the statement. What does she really mean? No matter how you twist and turn on this statement, it is very problematic and oppressive. Not at least when one of the main messages of the demonstrating Balinese is: “We exist!”
 The Balinese is a minority (Hinduism religious minority) in Indonesia.


The segregation and gentrification in Bali are evident today. Gentrification is a displacement process. Those who are not financially strong enough to buy houses, pay rent or live the everyday life in an area are getting displaced. Profits on rising square meter prices control the development. This leads to consequences for the cultural identity of places since the variation in residents is replaced by one and the same class. In certain areas of Bali it means that the tourism-industry is pushing away the locals. In general terms is gentrification processes especially evident and strong in central cities, but also along ocean coastal stretches.

Is it possible to say that surf culture is part of, and accelerates, gentrification processes? This considering how places around good surf spots are attractive and how they are used. Those areas are nowadays, in cases when there are no laws protecting them, getting privatized. Is access to the great open sea and the waves a class issue in an economically neo-liberal world? 







There are no locals?

PDF: There are no locals, Artworks overview [Language: English] – Download PDF

This is a collection of my art-works that relate to surfing in different ways. Surfing is part of pop-culture in the contemporary and placed in these projects as something that seeks to reach a wider audience than most regular art audiences. Surfing can be the key subject matter, but also serves as a medium, a materiality, and something to read symbolically and metaphorically as a power-position. My departure into the projects is through photography, problematizing what mediation is and how representation occurs. Things are always more complex than the representation.
These projects are dealing with inquires on cultural imperialism, ideals, norms, gender, heritage from
colonialism, post-colonial theory and gentrification processes.


PDF: There are no locals, Artworks overview [Language: English] – Download PDF

 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Colonial Surfer - The ReSearch on Twitter

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

CS Towels

The Search - The Re-Search
Bali billboard
Walking on Water
Surfers & Cowboys


Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Rising Seas Wetsuit




"THE SEAS ARE RISING AND SO ARE WE.

Our coastlines are under siege from the impacts of pollution, ocean acidification, climate change and fossil fuels. Rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms have had a devastating effect on our shorelines and are putting our beaches and local surf spots at risk.
With these harsh environmental realities in mind, we’ve teamed up with the Surfrider Foundation to create a wetsuit that addresses these threats head on. Designed with insights from their leading environmental scientists and studies, we are proud to introduce the revolutionary Vissla Rising Seas wetsuit.
The Rising Seas wetsuit features our most advanced technical attributes that meet our The intention: to protect and inform surfers of the presence of harmful bacteria, viruses, algae blooms, oil spills and high levels of run-off pollution in the water that might affect the outcome of their surf session."

READ MORE & TAKE ACTION HERE >>>>

http://risingseas.vissla.com/

A wetsuit we never want to make a reality...

Monday, September 30, 2019

SCREENSHOT



SCREENSHOT. Actual wallpaper pic on the Christian surf organization Walking on Waters site in 2008. I’m asking: What about representation? The world belongs to? Walking on water were a missionary organization from 1995-2018.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Surf culture?

Surf culture is a bit cringe. To make surf art is a bit cringe. But whether something is cringing or not, should not matter within art. Does it matter within surf culture?



Monday, September 9, 2019

My position does not differ




I find myself operating through a white European gaze that is intended to get criticized and discussed in the project. This is partly through how I document my surroundings with camera, photography, and video. My gaze and perspective are inherited and constructed through experience and underlying structural history. I place myself in situations that, in problematic ways, produce, or make visible, some of these blameworthy hierarchical cultural structures.

In some ways, my position does not differ much in this project from roles that anthropologists historically have got a lot of targeted criticism for. But I bind and tie myself up, suspend myself, regarding representational issues. I view and consider the surfer, the gaze of the surfer and a context through myself acting in a performance. No matter how I turn this in context, I do this from an outside perspective, but at the same time, especially from what I represent, from the inside. I'm not an active Christian at all, but from a global perspective, regarding representation, I am. But is Christian religion the crucial point of departure in this work?

We all live our lives in contexts made up of different ideologies. If we don´t agree on that, it shows nothing but that we are unable to see. The ideologies that affect us most are those we take so much for granted, that we cannot read or reveal them ourselves. We have no tools or possibilities to defend ourselves against those ideologies.





Thursday, August 29, 2019

SECULAR SURFACE - Surfing The Nations / TEXT



In 1936, Walter Benjamin wrote the classic and often referenced text The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Boris Groys has more recent written Religion in the age of digital reproduction (2009).
The philosopher and the artist Groys writes, among other things, that religion and conspiracy theories are two things that really benefit from the Internet and the network community. He believes that the spread and rise of these have increased significantly with our digitized era. Religion is facing a renaissance through digital social media. New forms of religion and religiosity are being developed.

The Internet in its structure benefits private, unconditional and sovereign freedom before scientific, conditional, institutional freedom, or sharing of legitimized viewpoints and perspectives. It is the unconditional and not proven information that can more easily and without resistance spread through the Internet. I also want to point out that this goes on in the market-liberal economy. It is information that in a superficial way fits easier within different situations, this is because it’s not regulated and therefore becomes more fast-formulated. It becomes competitive in spite of its major shortcomings, and Groys’ declares it as survival of the fittest in accordance with a Darwinist perspective. It finds favorable positions, diversity of positions, precisely through how it is not anchored and thus can move unlimitedly. 

(…)


During the prayer meeting, I placed a camera next to me and pressed the record button. It captures sound while standing and filming sneakily. Some minutes later, we do a prayer in which we pray for getting blessed with photographs and video material that will spread our message.

(…)

The reason for my work as a missionary for Surfing The Nations is that I see it as a performance work part of my art practice. There is nobody in place who knows about my intentions. My role could possibly be described in other ways than an artist. I'm there as a surfer. I'm there as a missionary. I'm there as an anthropologist. I'm there as a tourist. I'm there as a journalist. At the same time, none of these roles are true.

(…)

When I’m leaving the church and the area I feel a bit bestial. I write bestial (a beast) here with a link to how artists work with a context in real life, and then symbolically cannibalize on it to talk about something else. It’s a consumption of meaning, consumption of the environment and the people in order to be used as a representation. A violence that is close to hand within photographic and recording techniques. During our fairly personal conversation, I had placed a sound recorder switched on in a textile bag. Did I lie to this priest, I ask myself then? The priest who even may have baptized me at exactly on this spot in Onsala.

Honesty is honored within Christianity. You shall be true to yourself and you must be true to God. Within surf culture, it is important to be genuine and authentic. You are supposed to do things for real. Otherwise, you're just a poser.




(…)



Renovation

Monday, August 19, 2019

Surf-DNA & bloodlines in Gagosian gallery. Why?


Why is one of the largest and fancier galleries in the world doing an exhibition on a surf family?

Why is Gagosian doing an exhibition with #fletcherDNA as the hashtag and the overall title: The Fletcher Family – A Lifetime in Surf? The exhibition is on Madison Avenue in New York. Vice Magazine has been writing this about the skateboarder Greyson Fletcher who is the youngest guy in the family: ”Greyson is more than just a skater, he´s the fourth generation of a bloodline that has produced some of the most influential surfers ever. ” I´m questioning. What does this have to do with art at all? Is this art?; Four generations of great surfers in a family.


When I saw the surf film Last Name First from 2010, I got into similar thoughts on how being a great surfer is rather about situation, circumstances, environment, and privileges than about the DNA and bloodlines. Last Name First is a surf-film only featuring professional surfers who are brothers. I don’t believe that some people are natural-born surfers. And to do an art-exhibition with that as a score focusing on family and #fletcherDNA is something I find strange, conservative & also very problematic. As well it is superficial and lacks criticality.

You need to be in a situation that allows you to spend a lot of time surfing waves instead of doing other things to become a professional surfer. I dare to say that being a surfer is a matter of class. And I would say that the surf scene is taking place in similar upper-class environments like golf, sailing, and art.

You can make art out of surfing as a subject or material. You can do art out of any material and subject, but to be a great surfer is about being a great surfer. To say that it´s the same thing as being a great artist is naive.

The practice of the artist . . . is no different than that of the surfer, who inscribes his or her self in the ocean—a bigger canvas could not be engaged, defining their humanity in the most personal way, using themselves to draw their lifelines through the massive fleeting freedom of that power. The power and majesty of the sea—Herbie shared that with me and with my family as well as his own.

—Julian Schnabel




Wave surfing is originally a Polynesian sport and tradition with its first historical beginning in Hawaii. It’s being told that Hawaiians themselves mainly described and focused on surfing as an art form integrated into their culture. In addition, some who tell the story says that the first and most surfers were women. When missionaries from Scotland and Germany arrived in Hawaii in 1821, they banned and downplayed a number of Polynesian traditions and cultural practices. This also included wave surfing. The number of active surfers were limited to very few and surfing as an art form was about to completely die out.

Surfing as a cultural phenomenon back then was something different from how it is today. In the contemporary situation surfing is more mainstream, an ideal and something commercial more globally. To say that surfing is automatically art within the contemporary art-scene is conservative.

A Lifetime in surf is a celebration of a book with the same title about the Fletcher family. It is written by Dibi Fletcher, and with no further explanation is Dibi Fletcher being called the matriarch of surfing´s first family by her Husband Herbie and media. Mentioned about the book is also surfing as a counterculture from 1950s until today. How surfing has the possibility of both being viewed upon as counterculture and mainstream culture at the same time is interesting and something of a mystery. No matter how popular surfing is surfers consider themselves alternative and counterculture. I haven't read the book yet but will do soon.

Surfing is great fun and amazing! But it is not art just like that. And it’s not about bloodlines or DNA.

https://gagosian.com/exhibitions/2019/the-fletcher-family-a-lifetime-in-surf/