John Bennett Fitts -
Panama City Beach 2
Panama City Beach 2, 2005/2006
Chromogenic print, 20 x 24 inches
Gift of Nicki and J. Ira Harris (BBA '59)
Fitt’s work is inspired by the “New Topography photography movement of the 1970’s. This movement documents man’s alterations of the natural world. He takes photographs of commonplace locations like a golf course, or motel. These are places that are familiar to the viewer, yet Fitts transforms them into unrecognizable terrain that feels eerily foreign.
No Lifeguard on Duty is a gorgeous and engaging meditation on decline and abandonment." Fitts has traveled all over the United States photographing empty swimming pools in roadside motels. American ascendancy goes hand-in-hand with the rise of the automobile and the interstate highway. So much of our identity and fiction stems from this, the beatniks, the promise of suburbia, expectations of the summer family vacation, fast food, and rock' n' roll. The 1960's motel harkens back to a time when summer was long and the livin' was easy. Fitts' photos show those pleasure palaces in ruins. Overgrown and mucky, the pools sit empty of water and promise. The adjoining motels in the photo appear to be symbols of downward mobility instead of a site for the freewheeling fun and carefree youth.