surfing-venice-beach

Surreal contrasts from Västra Hamnen to Venice Beach

The Pacific Ocean’s current was unusually powerful and though relatively fit, the strength in my arms just wasn’t enough to get me out of trouble this time. I’ll be the first to admit that I’d ventured out into what was literally way above my experience level. But when I looked out towards the reef that morning from the beach, it looked irresistibly surfable – with no signs of what turned out to be a dangerous current.

As the intense riptide and waves seemed to unite, both pulling me out and pushing my board sideways, closer for each wave to the reef’s razor sharp, jagged rocks, I really started panicking.

To gather strength for what felt like my final shot at escaping an inevitable and likely devastating collision, I laid my head flat against the surfboard, took a good look at how far I needed to move to be safely out of harm’s way, breathed deeply three or four times and then started paddling diagonally against the current using the tip of my board as a compass, pointed steadily towards the beach.

I’d been in Venice Beach for just a few days, filming for what will eventually become a documentary about the laid-back, southern California lifestyle that I’ve felt so, almost magnetically drawn to and creatively inspired by for as long as I can remember.

Some might argue that I’m on some kind of nostalgic voyage – a pointless mission to relive my youth’s most carefree memories. Sentimentality can be a vicious psychological toxin, there is no doubt about that. But in this case, I feel certain there is more to my motive of documenting life here than just simply nostalgia or a pathological obsession with the “good ol´ times”.

A key to my passion is doubtlessly my love of the ocean – which I’ve admittedly had a life-long affair with. Living in Malmö’s Västra Hamnen, literally by the sea, has therefor made perfect sense for over a decade. I’ve always felt that living close to the water adds a level of life quality that the practicality of urban life can’t compensate for. When the sky and sea converge at the horizon, I experience a profound vastness that in turn generates an immeasurably soothing, almost hypnotic influence – regardless of where I find myself looking at it.

Though I’ve seen the coastline from kayaks, different boats and stand up paddle boards, so far, I’ve never actually rode a wave here in Västra Hamnen. Surf-friendly waves in the shallow bay of Ribersborg are extremely rare. But who knows, a fall storm could, at least potentially, produce a few good rides and I’d love to give it a try one day. I have two boards waxed up and ready to go by our front door – not much more than 20 meters from the water.

From mid May, and usually almost every morning and evening during the summer months, I literally embrace a small sliver of the north Atlantic called, the Öresund Straits together with my neighbor and creative collaborator, the artist, Johan “Giovanni” Carlsten. Each spring, as the water slowly warms up, our swims become more and more enjoyable and we forgive and forget the long and windy winter months past.

As July is coming to an end soon, we have about another month of our almost ritualistic morning and evening swims ahead of us.

Meanwhile, back at Venice…

Exhausted and relieved, I obviously survived my dramatic surf adventure from mid June in L.A. If only just barely. Live and learn.

And for the remainder of my two week visit, I captured several hours of film clips with surfers, skateboarders and the colorful folks that make Venice Beach a uniquely eclectic and insistently interesting place to photograph and film. Hope to have time to begin editing the raw footage sometime this fall.

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