The myth of surfing has done as much to advance the sport as to destroy it.
From Gidget to Stussy, each generation of marketers has subsequently sold out the sport to masses yearning for the liquid myth and its resulting treasure chest of youth fantasy. But at its core, surfers understand that the site-specificity of surfing is what needs to be protected—not the resulting myths or fantasies.
While surf photographers focus their lens on the myths of wave riding, bikinis and eternal youth, Moses Berkson covers the improvised secrecy of surfing’s territoriality—the engineering of paths that lead to places where surfers find their oblivion. Not only does he ignore the myth, he completely extracts it from such discourse, leaving only the context of his own experientiality.
A key formal construct inherent in Berkson’s images is his ability to evoke the most ephemeral moments of the environment’s perennially varying qualities of light, thus engaging the viewer to question his own notions of actuality and space as well as universal temporality. By rooting out the myth through the formalism of landscape, Berkson’s work both maintains the self-imposed marginalization of these locations and bypasses the detriment of modern “cultural” branding.
Berkson’s first solo U.S. exhibition, Coastal Access, is a document of the photographer’s ongoing relationship with his home state of California. Recognizing that regionalism is ultimately a socially constructed notion, Berkson incorporates intimations of localism and physiologically recluse spatialities of non-places vis-à-vis emerging contentions of authenticity, artificiality and conflation in his captured moments.
Without disclosing the locations of these elsewheres, he manifests historical apocrypha amidst the proliferating breeds of the feigning and the desiring.
Moses Berkson was born in Bolinas, California. After studying at San Francisco State University, he relocated to New York City where he worked as assistant to photographers Hiro and Craig McDean. In 2003 he exhibited works in Rome, Italy and continues to work around the world. Berkson currently lives in Los Angeles.
The Constant Gallery, an experimental space, focuses on the visual intersections of culture(s) throughout globalization.