Polluted Leisure

Clifton Evers (Aus) and James Davoll (NI)

Short film

The dominant trope of surfing is of fit young male surfers hanging out and surfing on clean sun drenched beaches. We pick up on this consideration from an older white male surfer perspective, one whose body is now soft and vulnerable, on the edge of the cold North Sea. His wetsuit has become an armour, sold to him through masculinist militaristic (its genesis) symbolism. It’s a ‘second-skin’ infused with histories of colonisation proceeded through the petrochemical industrial complex and attendant wars. This “everyday militarism” and “petro-masculinity” plays out at a site signifying the death of Empire: the post-industrial estuary of the Rivers Tees in Northern England. The surrounding community is socio-economically and health stressed due to a legacy of heavy industrial pollution (chemical, shipping, nuclear, steel, agricultural). The men who surf here regularly fall ill after surfing here. Yet, they favour and work to protect (through territorialism) the polluted surf-break formed by waste matter dumped into the river and sea. This is not a protection from pollution but of pollution informed by a long-standing resignation to it. For a long time nature has always-already toxic here, troubling ideas of protecting or sustaining some ‘pure nature.’ These white male western surfers gesture toward a gendered intransigence in the Anthropocene in the midst of overlapping toxicities, masculinity, illness, pollution, deindustrialisation, economic decline, and a bitter cold.

polluted leissure

A Toxic Love Affair

Clifton Evers (Aus) and James Davoll (NI)

Short Film

Surf-breaks are formed by pollution. For example, one of the best in the UK is a product of slag, pollution stemming from a century-old steel industry. Uncertainty remains about water quality in this region given surrounding chemical plant, agricultural runoff, shipping, nuclear power, and much more. Surfers fall ill. Some use the illness and braving the pollution to gesture toward their resilience and commitment to surfing. It is not just the bitter cold of this region that signifies such. Polluted leisure is material and cultural.

Official selection: Ethnografilm (2019)

Winner Best Experimental and Nominated Best Editing: 15th Annual ReelHeART International Film and Screenplay Festival (2019)

Far from Heaven

Clifton Evers (Aus) and James Davoll (NI)

Short Film/Performance/Installation

In 1997 Australian Indigenous artist Tracey Moffatt released a short film entitled Heaven. It inverted the white male colonial gaze directed at Indigenous women since colonisation. Moffatt compiles home video footage of fit young male surfers posing, surfing, and changing into and out of wetsuits. We pick up on this consideration from an older white male surfer perspective, one whose body is not hard but soft and vulnerable. For many such surfers the wetsuit is armour, advertised by companies through militaristic (its genesis) and cyborgian tropes. It is a ‘second-skin’ infused with histories of colonisation, a petrochemical industrial complex, and attendant wars. Polluted leisure is gendered, raced, colonial, and capitalist. White men-who-surf are ‘far from heaven’.

Honourable Mention: Canada Shorts film festival (2019)

 

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