Ocean Beach

United Photo Industries Presents


Featuring Douglas Ljungkvist

The cottages at Ocean Beach (NJ), some might say, are nothing more than over sized trailers. They are laid out in a symmetrical grid in three units, with the democratic and institutional sounding names Unit I, II, III, that total over 2,000 cottages. The streets, still made up of sand in Unit III, adds to the sparse and strong sense of place.

Photographing there in the off season allows the photographer to de-contextualize the cottages from their vacation purpose. From a formal perspective, color, form and spatial relationships are studied. Here color helps to create individuality among uniformity in the architectural landscape. He has temporarily “borrowed” select cottage interiors to conceptually create fragmented self portraits using found or personal items. This allows him to explore the project subtexts of time, memory, and identity.

The interiors have hardly any decorations creating an abstract time stamp and few clues as to who the owners are. The bedrooms are utilitarian in nature and minimal in size to where they straddle the line between intimate and claustrophobic.

As a photographer Douglas is interested in the cottages still showing signs of a bygone era when wood paneling, vibrant colors, and kitsch decorations were the order of the day. He always felt it was a race against time to visually preserve the cottages. That was based on the rapid pace of cottages being renovated and modernized to attract more potential vacationers on the competitive rental market.

Unfortunately, Ocean Beach was one of the hardest hit when Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the eastern seaboard. 35 of the 39 ocean facing cottages at Unit III were destroyed and have since been demolished and awaiting reconstruction. Many more were destroyed from the inside by standing water when the ocean and bay waters met on the thin barrier island. Even though these cottages are not year round homes there are victims here.

Many homeowners did not have flood insurance and FEMA does not cover secondary dwellings. So those owners have lost everything. Others thought they had a sound investment and relied on a steady rental income year after year. Selling a lot will be difficult too as it’s not likely that banks will issue mortgages here in the foreseeable future. That means owners would have to sell at a steep discount for cash if they cannot raise the funds to rebuild.

Related Programming:

Panel: Superstorm Sandy: Photographers Perspectives

Douglas Ljungkvist is a Brooklyn based fine art photographer originally from Sweden. His personal work explores vernacular beauty that is graphic, colorful, and quiet.

Mood and atmosphere are important aspects to the work that often have subtexts of time and identity. Formally, he is interested in the study of color, form, and space.

Douglas has received several prestigious awards including Winner PDN Photo Annual, Winner New York Photo Festival Invitational, Gold Px3 Best Fine Art Book proposal, National Geographic “Great Outdoors”, and numerous finalists and honorable mentions including CENTER, American Photo, International Photography Awards, Conde Nast Traveler, Photography Masters Cup, Renaissance Photography Prize, Lucie Foundation Scholarship, Design Trust for Urban Space.

His work has been exhibited both in the US and Europe including the foto/pods produced by United Photo Industries at Dumbo Arts Festival, Hereford Arts Festival, New York Photo Festival, Format 11, Bridge Art Fair, Garrison Art Center, Center for Fine Art Photography, London Street Photography Festival, and more.