Originally published June 12, 2012.
Staying close to home for his most recent body of work, Atlantic, Brooklyn-based photographer Ian Baguskas observed surfers drifting in cerulean, pre-hurricane seas at Far Rockaway, all eyes searching the horizon for signs of the next set in Waiting.
Ian has a long history with Jen Bekman Projects, coming into the fold as a 2006 Hot Shot, releasing his first edition on 20x200, Kamping Kabins, in 2007, having his NYC debut solo exhibition, Sweetwater, at Jen Bekman Gallery in 2008, and eventually sharing work from the same series here in Rincon Artificial Island and Pipeline, Ventura, California, released in 2010. While these earlier projects found him wandering west, tracing the impact we’ve had on the places we’ve attempted to tame and settle and photographing what actually transpired, Waiting was taken closer to Ian’s (and our) home in New York, at Brooklyn’s Far Rockaway, as part of his newest body of work, Atlantic.
While the West perennially holds promise for modern explorers, travelers and settlers, the East and its teeming cities also attracts its fair share of glory seekers. And while it’s often lost amid scrapers and asphalt, forgotten over hours spent indoors, seemingly less significant compared to our human (intellectual and cultural) accomplishments, we’re still subject to the whims of mother nature. We might have most drastically altered the topography of Manhattan, erasing all traces of the wild that once existed here, replacing it with mountains of brick and steel, but it still wouldn’t take much for it all to be taken away from us—compared to hurricanes and earthquakes, we’re relatively powerless. Surfers know this: There’s nothing to do when waiting on a wave, except wait.
And, though this image of surfers in milky waters is one that’s been taken by photographers before, most notably, probably, by Catherine Opie in her 2003 series, it’s an image that aptly fits within Ian’s bodies of work. In spite of ourselves, and our grand endeavors and accomplishments, we’re still too small to totally defy nature.