Caitlin Teal Price
Sunbathing is something I’ve never enjoyed or understood. It baffles me. It amuses me. I find it a very peculiar activity to lay down for hours in burning heat ‘catching the rays’. Caitlin Teal Price photographs the sunbathers of New York City with her keen camera lens in the brilliantly titled series Washed Up.
Taken over one summer month around New York City, mostly at Coney Island and Brighton Beach, Price produced a fascinating, somewhat humorous and somewhat shocking survey of human behavior - a collection of stolen moments of leisure, self-improvement and for some, ritual.
Within Price’s images we are presented with an intense series of contrasts; sunburnt bodies and ghostly pale skin (the kind that will not tan, no matter how hard you try), strikingly different body shapes which range from the unhealthily thin to overweight and garish clashes of colour and pattern on the beach towels and bathing suits of the subjects.
We are given what appears a voyeuristic view, with the subjects seemingly unaware of the act of photography that has taken place (whether this is the case, I’m not sure). This view is a unique one indeed, with the sunbathers actively discarding their layers of clothing, exposing themselves to the sun’s rays Price captures a moment which is seemingly ‘free’ of self-conscious thought or behavior. If anything it’s a moment of confidence for them as they perform this act of self-improvement.
For me Washed Up is a interesting and gentle amusing look at leisure and the peculiarity and extremes of certain activities. It seems to point the finger and modestly chuckle at the subjects yet also highlights some serious points about our (often warped) views on body image in the modern world.