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

Monday, September 17, 2018

I < 3 Arak Bali

Bali has not got more expensive for tourists. Bali has got more segregated. Places are getting gentrified and taken over by smoothie bowls (yoga, golf, surfing). And expensive global spirits are replacing the local Arak. The fort-like resorts and gated communities are popping up here and there. The Balinese are still poor. Estimated 85% of the tourism economy in Bali is non-Balinese owned. The parties on cheap Arak were open for everyone (with a few bars and clubs as an exception). The new standard of clubs in Bali with luxury spirits and expensive beer are without the locals and only for the most privileged and rich.

This picture is photographed on the Tolak Reklamasi demonstration in Denpasar 25 August 2018.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


I work on a project in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka, that is a distant and exotic place for me. Through the project, I intentionally intend to be in a colonial gaze. At the same time, it’s a gaze that’s already my own. From a global perspective, I already represent the role I now consider myself to play.

I'm in a role as a missionary in an American Christian surf organization. I do this as an art performance. Nobody on site knows that I see my participation as something related to my art practice. I perform a role in a group that I'm critical of. I'm carrying a camera with me and I am photographing a lot. The others in the group do also carry around cameras. Many photographs and video clips are being shot in an environment that is exotic to us. A difference is that I am primarily interested in targeting ourselves. When days and weeks pass, the situation becomes more known to me. At the same time, I probably exoticize and generalize the missionary role in an unfair manner. And maybe I also over-identify me with the research subject. I make a series of overthrows and break the rules in ways that are more or less typical of anthropologists throughout history.

After being away for 2 months and 2 weeks, I've returned home to the Swedish summer via airplanes, airports and airport buses. I'm in Mälarhöjden where I live in a collective with friends. We share a garden villa in a neighborhood with a lot of quite old but very nice houses. My room is still occupied since I've rented it out temporarily to an exchange student while being away. I do now make the living room into my sleeping area. I´m laying down on a pile of mattresses that really are too soft in combination with each other. I'm so tired that I don't make an effort to separate them.

The days are very hot in Arugam Bay. The place is located on the southeastern side of the island of Sri Lanka. Strong sunlight is shining through the window. We are as missionaries visiting a welcoming Sri Lankan family.

As I look around, I wonder how the picture on the wall looks so familiar. There is something with the color scale. The various shades of green that are broken up by some reddish and brown. A bookshelf is placed in the spartan-decorated room. It's very similar to a shelf in our collective in Sweden. And just as it stands. I'm getting a nice curious smile on my lips when I see that it also contains the book The Aesthetics of Resistance by Peter Weiss. On the wall is a Mona Lisa poster mounted on a wooden board. The same as we have in our collective in Mälarhöjden! It's also worn in an almost identical way. The feeling in the body is overwhelming. I'm rising up out of the several layers of mattresses. I reach for the camera to start photographing the room. I focus, and when I press the shutter button, the perspective changes.

Bali - indonesia "All We Do is Surf"

War is over - Obey

Bali - Indonesia "War is over - Obey"

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Tolak Reklamasi - Denpasar Bali 25 August 2018 - For Bali

The Balinese Tolak Reklamasi movement is protesting the exploitation of Bali by huge international companies. They are not completely against all tourism or a group that only thinks The Balinese or Hindus is the right. There are people from other areas and other religious views supporting and participating in Tolak Reklamasi (Reject the reclamation). It is a people´s movement. The main goal is to stop The Benoa Bay exploitation. Reject the reclamation of The Benoa Bay.

There is now a plan for a 3 billion dollar tourism project in The Benoa Bay area. That is about building artificial islands with resorts for rich people. This will also include huge harbors for cruising ships. This reclamation will destroy a natural area of mangrove trees and has far worse environment causes in Bali overall.

There have been fishermen in a more smaller scale harbor in this area. They have been refusing to move from there. Then the stories about this are different depending on whom you talk to. But what is for sure is that some days ago around 40 ships got burnt in a fire disaster. And this is right in the spot where the building of this mega-tourism complex should go on. In all the media I’ve been reading, internationally, about this fire disaster, the only explanation I get is that Bali has to pour safety for fires and that the boats have been to close to each other in the harbor.

Some locals have other versions. One version is that people, or the government, with interest in this exploitation project, has burnt the ships. A friend of mine send me the same kind of article as the ones I already read recently about this incident, but with a date from 2017. The causes of the fire that year, as with this year fire, are not solved. Just some thoughts are presented about that it could be about electricity. In 2017 it was only three boats that got on fire thanks to helping from 15 fire engines and two boats deployed to the scene. In 2018 the fire was more massive and it went extremely fast. 40 ships got gulped in the fire this time. It might be an electrical short circuit that caused the fire. But this is widely discussed.

”The negative aspects of unrestricted tourist development have been highlighted by the Bali Tolak Reklamasi movement, including unregulated mining of limestone and coral for hotel and airport construction, coastal erosion, plastic waste, sewage pollution, and water source diversions from the Subak water irrigation system towards areas that no longer have existing water tables.”

”…estimated 85 percent of the tourism economy in Bali is non-Balinese owned, and the tourism industry accounts for 65 percent of Bali’s water consumption.”

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Surfers are queer

The movies, pictures, commercials, and beaches of surfing are full of well-trained male bodies. It's also common with male nude torsos that meet in grabbing arms and encouraging hugs or intimate handshakes. To imagine and view surfing as a homoerotic culture is easy since it's mostly about men who socialize primarily with other men.

It's obvious that contemporary surfing is a sport that is dominated and leads by a larger number of white men. And there are clear differences in how men and women do get represented in pictures. If you do an Internet search for images on the word surfer, and then categorize them, the point is clear.
In the photos of male surfers, which are the most, there is a lot more focus on performance, muscles and the activity. For sure there are also some women heroines in this sport. For example female surfers deep in tubes on large massive waves such as legendary Teahupoo in Tahiti. There are a lot of really great women surfers out there. But most of the pictures on girls do rather focus in other ways.

In the surf-films that are produced for inspiration (porn), there are sometimes sequences of women that get cut in during ongoing movie streams of male heroic surfers and their bodies in ongoing activities. A focus on how those women are surfing waves is rare. Instead, it is quite common with images that are filmed in secret from spying perspectives. Images that often are zoom views on girls breasts and butts in bikinis. 
And this is an ugly abuse since those girls get filmed when they have no clue that they are getting captured, or know about their upcoming appearance in those films. Images that are edited into the screenplay in such a rude way that you do get to wonder about how things are? What is this really about? Although these images are highly doubtful and wrong to spread further they are in movies sponsored by large multinational surf companies.

- Look at us! We are surfers bonding with other guys, but we are definitely heterosexual men. Don’t think about us as gays. Cause we do have evidence!

Another speaking example in the same line is the far-reaching campaign that has been going on for several years by the shoe and clothing brand reef. In the marketing, they have been sending out large quantities of powerful images on male surfers in spectacular or ideal positions on great waves. In those commercial pics, there are edited images of girls next to the men. In those pictures, the surfers names and autographs are written in proud ways. And the women's names are written as well. But the only thing we see of the women is their backside. They don’t even twist their head so we can see their eyes or faces. Present in the images is their butts. Pictures of fit shaped naked asses. Alongside the men on the waves, this is the women's performance.

The title of this post is: Surfers are queer. When I say queer I refer to a queer theoretical perspective on identity and gender that somehow explains that those roles are made up of constructions. For example in such a way as the famous theorist Judith Butler is focusing on sexuality as a cultural construction. This is then in a perspective on how our gender-roles relate to each other in forming (performative) matters. The surfing culture and its roles are created by how individuals mimic and imitate each other, as well as how surfers get influenced by the sport's repeating commercials, marketing and else.

A queer theory perspective is about that identity and gender is an act that has to be rehearsed, much like a script, and we as the surfers/actors make this script a reality over and over again by performing these actions. From this point of view, with a focus on those parameters, you can clearly say that the surf-culture, in repetition and by how it is constructed in obvious ways is something that is about acting.

“Life does not come with a script, so quit acting.”; is written as a tagline on a surfers twitter account STNC follows. The point in this text is rather that life certainly comes with scripts. Those scripts are sometimes forced into our behavior by ideals and social norms. I would like to say that it is rather about changing those scripts for how we play than stop playing. Since we are all playing and there is no essential true way. 

A good chance for the surf culture would be about creating room for greater diversity and generate a more inclusive, welcoming and equal culture. Right now the surf culture is a dominant, strongly normative, heteronormative and white male culture. This is a very narrow construction.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A backpack get placed on Charles de Gaulle airport in France 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 can not be easily opened. The backpack is meant as an attack in the airport.

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.

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

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 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.

The Backpack

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Drive-by shooting - It's a matter of a power relation.

From a discussion on STNC Facebook page:

Drive-by shooting - It's a matter of a power relation.

EP: Hmm... I'd like to understand that thought. Does it parallel with the aboriginal thought that photographs steal your soul?

STNC: It's about the position and role. Who is mobile and free and who is getting frozen solid. Anyone who can move more freely, such as a surfer who travels the world, has the advantage in matters of representation when holding the camera. From such a free-floating position, it is easier to control the representation of the 'other', the influence of photography and the performative power. It is also very much about his/her own identity by consuming the environment as an "aesthetic surface." The power lies in the ability for geographical movement but manifests itself through pictures and stories. Whose stories are told through these images and why? What is the purpose of the image photographed from this tuktuk ride? In general it is very often photographs that manifest the photographer's role and identity.

EP: Yes, agreed. Just as in quantum physics the presence of the observer alters the outcome of the atom's movement.

STNC: Yes, that’s a way of putting it. But somehow that is also problematic. Since we need to find ways of getting everyone able to be observers alike. Not just the free traveling surfer. In Surfers are The New Colonialists I am observing the surfer and the surfers gaze. I do this to find ways of challenging very unequal perspectives.