An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea by Erika Balsom, is an essay that surveys the seascape of historical and contemporary filmmaking across genres.
The result of Erika Balsom’s 2017 residency with the Govett-Brewster as International Film Curator in Residence, An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea complicates the Romantic myth of the ocean as a dark, monstrous void of unknowable depths, populated by alien creatures.
Across five themes – the elemental contingencies of water, the fascination of submarine cinematography, representations of littoral labour, approaches to the Middle Passage and illegalized migration, and the materiality of global maritime circulation – An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea drifts idiosyncratically through the history of cinematic representations of the sea, approaching the ocean as a vast and fluid archive traversing nature and culture.
Through the essay Balsom asks: what if we understood the ocean not as dividing us but as connecting us? What politics, what ethics, would follow?
An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea is published as the first of the Govett-Brewster’s STATEMENTS series of commissioned essays, published with the support of Creative New Zealand.