America’s public pools have historically been a place where social realities are intensified by the intimacy of the unclothed body in a shared medium of water and common activity of recreation.
The crises of increasing disrepair and impending closures of small city pools localized within neighborhoods result from an epidemic abandonment of public spaces- a retreat from public life that comes at a significant social cost to all of us.
(Following integration, anxieties towards interracial mixing spurred a boom in the now common establishment of private swim clubs as alternatives to the municipal pool)
As a seasoned employee of the public pools I bore daily witness to the crises of increasing disrepair and impending closures of small city pools localized within neighborhoods
LIFEGUARD wades into these endangered municipal spaces, drawing closer to the people who use them to create ripples of the visions unfolding daily during summer hours.
Through direct observational cinema as well as documented interviews I gained understanding of the immense power of the water as a testing ground for relations between self and other.... the ability of the water to foster personal growth.
For those most frequent swimmers whom I interviewed most, public access to an aquatic space was life changing and even life-saving.
In water, we find a physical and psychological space to challenge ourselves to overcome what defines and limits on dry land.
It has become my belief that water is not just a resource, but an elemental public sphere. Without access to pools or other bodies of water, one cannot possess the ability to swim. Without the ability to swim, one is fundamentally excluded from not only pools, but all aquatic spaces. Because of the privileges and access I have been given to water through aquatic recreation, water is a place where I feel safe, happy, and alive. But for those who have been denied access to water, a pool is a place of fear, shame, and even death. In order to keep the gateways towards the aquatic sphere from closing to all but the most privileged, we cannot let municipal pools wither away. I am making this documentary because I dream that public pools well cared for, well-attended, public spaces of health, recreation and community.