No Lifeguard On Duty

Posted by Alex

I’m all about lonely and melancholic photography this week — though more importantly — I’m really into the effective implementation of a deceptively simple concept as seen above. Like Nobody is there, this series by J Bennett Fitts steers clear of any human subject; this time with a slightly more ominous tone. The focus of No Lifeguard on Duty is the abandoned swimming pools found throughout the country, usually alongside a similarly neglected hotel/motel from the 60’s. Just in time for summer! (At least in San Francisco…elsewhere in the country a more appropriate summer image might have the pool filled with water and people frolicking about. Here, summer means cold and foggy.)

Swimming pools are signs of spiritual optimism, economic prosperity and the hedonistic good life, so the image of a pool dried up and cracked or half full of dirty water becomes a symbol of disappointed hopes and dreams. A sign on the wall by a pool that was filled in with grassy sod says, ”No lifeguard on duty,” which is funny at first, and then starts to sound like an ominous judgment about modern American life. Ken Johnson

via Booooooom

5 Comments Leave A Comment


Scott says:

July 23, 2009 at 11:55 pm

awesome…the middle one belongs on my wall. I was in berkeley the other day and saw some similarly-styled photos on the wall of a restaurant. I love that southwestern 70’s vibe.


RA_OUL says:

July 24, 2009 at 10:29 am

Even before reading anything about the photographer and the meaning of the work you can get a sense of what Fitts is trying to convey. This series isn’t just simply a theme of empty swimming pools. That’s what I really like about it. The photos also bring back some memories of traveling from Sacramento to the south and seeing hotels like these in small vacant towns along the way