Bonni Benrubi Gallery is pleased to present a new project by Rockaway artist Susannah Ray and WNYC radio producer Jen Poyant entitled "What are the Wild Waves Saying". The exhibition will include 14 new images from Ray presented with Poyant's audio score. The show examines the effects last year's hurricane had on the community of the Rockaways in New York, both on the lives of people who have chosen to call the area home, and on the environment itself.
Last year, hurricane Sandy's seventeen foot surge pushed across the peninsula of the Rockaways, leaving behind water-logged basements and first floors, their remnants piled in front of home after home, block after block. The boardwalk, which nearly ran the length of the peninsula, was severed from its concrete foundation, slammed into shorefront homes and deposited on cars. It was an unprecedented disaster in the Rockaways and countless other coastal communities, where the scale and scope of the trauma, suffering and uncertainty would unfold slowly in the following weeks and months.
People told tales of survival, digging out, rebuilding, and hoping for things to get back to normal. Each person's story reflects a long history of settlement along the peninsula, from the close-knit Breezy Point community on the west end all the way to Far Rockaway on the east. The floodwaters united the disparate populations of the peninsula through shared trauma and struggle, yet as they receded and the clean-up dragged on, longstanding differences resurfaced.
What are the Wild Waves Saying documents the lingering aftermath of the storm and the individuals that comprise the complex community of the Rockaways. The audio interviews and photographic portraits delve into each subject's storm story and uncover the deep connections to the land and the sea.
Susannah Ray began photographing landscapes as an undergraduate at Princeton University. Later, at the School of Visual Arts MFA program in Photography and Related Media, she began to make landscape photography as a kind of geography, "a visual rendering of the complicated nexus of geology, history, and ideology". Jen Poyant is a senior producer for WNYC's The Takeaway. She holds a Master's degree in Cultural and Critical Studies from the University of London, Birkbeck College.