Episode of the Sea

Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan

The film Episode of the Sea is the outcome of a two-year collaboration with the fishing community of Urk, a former island in the Netherlands. In the previous century, the Dutch closed off and drained their inland sea to reclaim new arable land. The island of Urk, situated in mid sea, suddenly found itself embraced by land. Its inhabitants were expected to switch from fishing to farming, but the fishermen managed to continue their trade. They found new fishing grounds, far out in the North Sea. Despite being part of the mainland for decades, the fishing village is still notoriously insular and its inhabitants continue to speak their own tongue. With a residency and numerous visits to Urk we gradually gained the Urkers’ trust. From 2011 to 2013, we documented the sites and work of fishing and filmed a dozen of staged scenes, performed by members of the fishing community themselves in their local dialect. Meanwhile we kept a log of our encounters and experiences in situ. Episode of the Sea brings these diverse materials together. 

The film documents the material world of contemporary North Sea fishery and the fishermen’s struggle with a changed public perception, fluctuating regulations, and excessive global competition, while parallels are drawn between fishing and filming. Rendered in black-and-white to recite neo-realist drama and early documentary styles, the scenes evoke a way of life that has been passed on by ancestors, yet on the verge of obsolescence.

Co-presented with Gallery TPW

Curated by Kim Simon