Composition for Taranaki Surfers – Alex Monteith

The Composition for Taranaki Surfers project is concerned with developing a relationship between Taranaki’s surf culture, video installation art, expanded documentary strategies and performance art. Surfing recently surpassed Rugby in New Zealand as the sport in which the highest number of New Zealanders participate. This project proposes to investigate surf culture in Taranaki in relationship to performativity in the geographical environment.

I would like to make a video installation that combines multiple simultaneous Digital video recordings at Taranaki’s renowned surf breaks, including at least Stent Road, Kumera Patch and Mangahume. These surf breaks are spread around the circumference of Taranaki’s “surf highway”. The work would explore sport is a form of performance that relates to both geography & weather and would be something between documentation of certain cultures of performance specific to surfers and a choreographed act designed to engage specifically with the format of multi-venue/muli-camera shooting and the geography local to the Taranaki surf scene. Both relationships of real-time and weather specifics would be explored by the project-which will be shot at various point-breaks that face between N and SW on the compass dial. The SCANZ residency is an ideal place to incubate and create this work because some of the other attendees (including Natalie Robertson) could work simultaneously at various locations with me on the project –and this presents a unique opportunity to create a video work of scale in the region.

This project would constitute the third major video installation work in a series of works investigating specialized ways of moving and navigating simultaneous video and environmental spaces and NZ agribusiness or sports leisure activities. I would like to involve some of the women’s and/or mens ex. NZ rep surfers and NZ national champions from the region. I have contacts in the NZ surfing industry from when I used to compete in the scene myself (competing at National level in NZ till 2002, and at European and World level in 2001/2002) including Heather Dent (NZ champion, and also a former USA rep surfer).

I am most interested in looking at the potential of a multi-venue (multiple surf-breaks) multi camera shoot for a video installation outcome (possibly up to 4 POV’s as with the sheep and motorcycle projects). I generally identify a performance possibility for participants (like surfers) and organize them for a singe-take (no edits) multi-camera shoot –and this project would also be produced using this stucturalist technique. I have already begun a related work in Ahipara (Northland) in which I simultaneously documented the passing utes, trucks, walking surfers, motoX riders as they accessed the three main surf spots near Ahipara (Blue house, Pines and Mukie2). Each point-break is 2kms apart. The stills below are taken from footage recorded at the 2nd point-break Muckie2. Ahipara in Northland presents a completely unique mix of word class surf and extraordinary 4×4 vehicle-culture in order for surfers to access the remote sites. This complicates reading the geographical environment in Ahipara because of the mix of mad-max vehicle culture and awe-inspiring pristine surf and surrounds. The Taranaki surf-scene on the other hand is defined by sprawling breaks with giant swell windows that catch swell from many directions that can be explored within 100kms drive of New Plymouth – and it is particular Taranaki-specific contexts for surf related performance the work sets out to explore.

Auckland based artist and academic in time-based media. Exhibits in national and international contemporary art contexts as well as film festival contexts (US awards in 2000 and 2004), with moving image work in the Wairoa Maori Film Festival 2008, International Film Festival of New Zealand five of the last eight years, feature film official selection NZIFF 2005.