Gabriella Angotti-Jones’s I Just Wanna Surf captures the friction of finding one’s identity and community during the pandemic and post-George Floyd era in a sport dominated by white men. Growing up in one of the only mixed-race Black families in a small Orange County beach town, Angotti-Jones reflects on how her early relationship with the ocean and Californian surf culture became intertwined with her identity as a Black woman.
In a mix of photo book, zine, and diary, Angotti-Jones challenges the traditional surfing narrative by documenting Black women and non-binary surfers living the surfing lifestyle inspired by 1990s and early 2000s surf culture, while making it their own. The images juxtapose the joy of friendship and the refuge found in the the ocean’s wilderness with the underlying racial tensions at the core of the Black American experience. With sensitivity and vulnerability, her text explores her experience with depression and the sense of peace brought by riding waves.
Published by Mass Books, I Just Wanna Surf is a joyous, raw, complex and unique expansion of the visual history of the Black American experience and its place in a rapidly changing American surf community.