Put some sand between your toes today—virtually at least—with our new edition from award-winning photographer and longtime 20x200 artist Ian Baguskas. Lifeguard Stand, Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York is a hushed, inquisitive image that’s haunted us since we first saw it on Baguskas’s Instagram a few summers ago. It’s got a dreamy balance of breathing room. It’s playful and subtle, puzzling and serene. And if you’re hunting for holiday gifts, this limited-edition print would make a stellar present for a surfer, beach bum, photo buff, or Queens native.
This isn’t the stereotypical beach scene. In Lifeguard Stand, Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York, Baguskas captures the seaside in a more mysterious mood. The unseasonable summer fog lends everything in frame an ephemeral, pseudo-supernatural air. Muted fluorescents are faded signs of the synthetic environment, a half-awareness of the built world—like one might drift through while waking from an afternoon nap on the sand. The abandoned lifeguard stand, scattered with odds and ends, suggests the recent presence of another person. That adds to the photo’s ghostly aura, a captivating quality that’ll call you back to the image again and again. The lingering presence also alters the experience of the landscape, tempering the solitude of the scene with the recognition that others have been there before, and will be there after.
Lifeguard Stand, Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York belongs to a larger photo series Baguskas calls Searching. Spotlighting recreational sites across America, Searching takes an speculative look at the human urge to explore and experience nature. The images gently juxtapose stunning natural scenery with the technological and material trappings of modern civilization—a lifeguard stand strewn with neon detritus against a quiet swath of sand, an RV in a remote desert vista, equipment-clad climbers on a snowy mountainside, a parking lot jutting out against a verdant valley. In the process, Baguskas poses some open-ended questions: What draws us to the wilderness? How does connecting with it serve us? How does modernity facilitate this connection and also interrupt it? The fog in Lifeguard Stand, Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York is the visible equivalent of the unanswerable, blurring the boundary between beach and manufactured miscellany, obscuring the distance. The viewer’s left to elaborate with their mind’s eye. What lies beyond the lifeguard stand is as opaque as the complex meaning of nature moments in an increasingly engineered world.
While it leaves a lot up in the air, Lifeguard Stand, Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York makes a peaceful impression. It also makes us want to bundle up and have ourselves a breezy fall beach day—who’s game?
With art for everyone,