Photographs by Peter Granser. Essay by Vicki Goldberg.
Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2006. 100 pp., 72 color illustrations, 11x11".
Peter Granser, who lives in Stuttgart, Germany,
commutes to the U.S. for work: his two previous
books of photographs, Sun City (2003) and
Alzheimers (2005) observe aging and illness among
preternaturally prosperous and tan American
retirees. Coney Island brings his gaze to an outpost
of retro beach culture and economic decay that
may be better known in Europe than at home. With
precise, witty color, he captures the morbid charm
of “America’s Playground” on the Brooklyn beachfront,
with its dilapidated amusement parks, made
famous long ago in the black-and-white work of
Diane Arbus, Weegee, and Bruce Gilden. Granser’s
more recent tours, for which he has already
received the Leica Oskar-Barnack Award, found
sweaty beach bums and sailors in drag, shabby
snack bars and rusty roller coasters, and recorded
them all with a sympathetic eye to the aura of
splendor gone seedy.“Recruiting Station” shows
the rundown Army recruiter’s shack that stands in
front of Nathan’s Hot Dogs, home of the annual
hot-dog eating contest. Nearby, he captures hipsters
in kneesocks and oversized sunglasses, and a
view of the beach from an amusement-park ride
high above it, with bathers small as little dots.
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