Past Exhibitions > Susannah Ray

Susannah Ray
Susannah Ray

Susannah Ray
Down For the Day

Sand, everywhere on everything, sand and more sand. Chip bags cartwheeling across the beach or scavenged by seagulls, umbrellas turned inside-out, stuffed into overstuffed garbage cans. String bikinis and dollar store towels, legs, arms, torsos, bellies, backs, covered in sand and more sand. Voices, thousands of them, carried inland by the onshore winds, commingled shouts that ebb and flow like the waves, a constant hum only interrupted by the rattle of the train that disgorges more and more bodies seeking relief from the summer heat.

They all come down for the day. Camps set up shoulder to shoulder, mini-habitations, refugees from the city. Running into the water with a shout. By August it's like a bathtub. The late-afternoon sun, relentless, lowering in the sky, the shadows grow long, lifeguard whistles from one stand then the next, up and down the beach: everybody out. Shaking sheets and packing coolers, missing flip-flops and crying toddlers, trying to rinse off the sand, its everywhere on everything, sand, sand, and more sand.

The photographs in Down For the Day (2016-present) are made along a 15 block stretch of Rockaway Beach, Queens. Less than a mile long, this section of beach is among the most utilized in New York City, hosting shoulder to shoulder crowds on summer weekends. The project title, Down For the Day, is the local description of day trippers, frequently called DFDs. This term, often meant to distance visitors from locals, is used here to describe the tangled bodies, cramped encampments, and flimsy tropical umbrellas as attempts at finding not only respite from the city heat, but perhaps a momentary paradise, imperfect but one’s own.

Down For the Day is fourth in a cycle of projects that depict the relationship between New York City, its diverse citizens, and its urban waterways. Throughout my photographic practice I have sought to understand the contradiction between the ideal and the actual; my photographs occur in the space, both literal and metaphorical, between the two. My hope is to find Eden in the everyday, to witness how we reconcile ourselves to the places and the life we live, how we find joy, beauty, and even transcendence in our immediate moment.

Susannah Ray Website