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.
“Built in the 19th century, the amusement center Coney Island was intended as a future America, a technical wonderland right next to the Atlantic Ocean. In the amusement parks such as ‘Dreamland’ and ‘Luna Park’ the masses discovered new leisure habits. However, the formerly chic promenades and amusements have disappeared under a dirty veil of weeds and rust. Granser’s photographs not only show citydwellers looking for diversion in their artificial environment. The study of the endearingly morbid charm of Coney Island is, from his point of view, at the same time a portrait of the ‘American way of life’. “The restful, carefully observed color photos reflect the dreams of the small people and the utopias of the past. In the melancholic leisure eldorado, however, they mutate into empty illusions.” Jury of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2004 (http://www.leica-oskar-barnack-award.com/en/winner/winner-2004-peter-granser.html)