The oppressiveness of any Monday meets the specific misery of a workday after a summer weekend, meets the unspeakable dispiritedness of a pandemic summer. All that comes together in Roe Ethridge’s exhibition of new photographs at Gagosian, “Beach Umbrella.” The images on view—most of them shot across four Mondays in Rockaway Beach in the summer of 2020—range from fashion, to high art, to Instagram shots.
In Maryel with Beach Umbrella (2018), we see a modelesque female subject in a weather-inappropriate carmine red stole. On her nose is a hot pink triangle—this being a riff on the bumbling beach-goer who fails to rub in their sunblock. On the other end of the spectrum, in Beach Umbrella with Life Guard Stand (2020), Ethridge puts the “sun” in “sundries.” Between the metallic and blurry legs of a lifeguard’s chair and the brick-lined highrises obscured in the summer haze in the background, we see the banal detritus that follows a weekend at the beach: a broken rainbow sun umbrella (its tag still attached); and a volleyball with the word “CHANCE” etched into it.
Roe Ethridge, Beach Umbrella with Cup and Flip Flops, 2020. Dye sublimation print on aluminum, 40 x 53 inches. © Roe Ethridge. Courtesy Gagosian