16 Swimming in Post-apartheid Cape Town: Sea Point Days (2009)
François Verster’s documentary Sea Point Days (South Africa, 2009) introduces a complex of municipal swimming pools in Cape Town as its narrative, aesthetic and symbolic anchor. This essay will explore the swimming pool and its environs as a space where social, political and aesthetic forces converge, in the specific context of post-apartheid South Africa. A long-term project, Sea Point Days was shot and edited between 2004 and 2008. In the words of the director, a white, male South African, the film deals ‘partly with racial, social, religious and power relations, identity and perceptions in the not-so-new South Africa as experienced or displayed in a transformed public space.’1
Sea Point is a suburb of Cape Town, located on the city’s Atlantic seaboard, sandwiched between Signal Hill and the ocean. Initially racially mixed, it became one of the white-only areas under apartheid. Michele Paulse writes that ‘in the 1950s the National Party intensified the racial separation that for decades characterized life in South Africa. The Group Areas Act of 1950 legislated separate residential areas and in 1957 the government ordered the removal of people of colour from Sea Point.’2
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