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Snapshot: ‘Flotsam’ by Ward Roberts

Snapshot: ‘Flotsam’ by Ward Roberts

August 11
15:29 2017

Flotsam, noun, from the Anglo-Norman word floter, meaning “to float”.

1. The wreckage of a ship or its cargo.

2. People or things that have been discarded.

In these sparse, painterly photographs by the New York-based conceptual artist Ward Roberts, the figures and objects that lie scattered on Far Rockaway Beach could fit either definition. The running theme in Roberts’ work is the isolation and anonymity that pervades the modern era. This is a washed-out summer. The bathers look like lonely dolls, the buildings plywood cut-outs, like the aftermath of a storm (the pictures were taken in the wake of Hurricane Sandy).

Little by little, small questions arise: where is everyone else? Most disturbingly, this is a beach with no sea — a desert, then.

‘Flotsam 1’ (2014-17) by Ward Roberts © Ward Roberts
‘Flotsam 2’ (2014-17) by Ward Roberts © Ward Roberts
‘Flotsam 26’ (2014-17) by Ward Roberts © Ward Roberts
‘Flotsam 34’ (2014-17) by Ward Roberts © Ward Roberts

‘Flotsam’ by Ward Roberts is published by Atelier Editions this month ($45)

Photographs: Ward Roberts

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