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by Douglas Ljungkvist
This project is study of a unique place in the American landscape that appeals to my vernacular taste and sense of style and order. The cottages at Ocean Beach (NJ), some might say, are nothing more than oversized 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 in the off season allows me to de-contextualize the cottages from their vacation purpose. Here color helps create individuality amongst uniformity in the architectural landscape. As with most my work there are 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. I have added personal items to some cottage interiors to study the concept of what it might have looked had I vacationed at Ocean Beach growing up. As a photographer I am interested in the cottages still showing signs of a bygone era. I 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. The project was published by Kehrer Verlag in the spring of 2014.