On an isolated peninsula at the far edge of New York City there lives a close-knit community of impoverished social outcasts who, bearing the stigma of mental illness and the perception of moral turpitude, have found themselves exiled to a forgotten corner of Queens known as THE LAST STOP – ROCKAWAY PARK. I have been visiting and developing personal ties to the Rockaway Park community for the past four years.
My photographs reveal a society of the disregarded. Marginalized and dysfunctional, many have severe disabilities, and are besieged by chronic illness and addiction. They inhabit a hazy twilight world of ramshackle bars, boarding houses, single room occupancies and frayed social services that teeter just beyond the last stop on the New York subway system’s “A” line. The people in my images, many of whom I have come to know and feel great affection for, have revealed to me something about the perseverance of the human spirit amid isolation and decay. Here one still finds friendship, laugher and even love.
Juliana Beasley began her photographic career as a printer for Annie Leibovitz, later freelancing for the Village Voice covering the New York City nightlife. Beasley’s acclaimed work from her four year project on exotic dancers culminated in the book Lap Dancer (PowerHouse, 2003). Work from “Lapdancer” and a new long-term project, “Last Stop: Rockaway Park” has been shown in the U.S. and abroad including, Frieze Art Festival of London, the Farmani in Paris, The Mannheim/Heidlberg Photo Festival in Germany and Galleri Konstrast in Sweden. Beasley is also the winner of various awards including the PX3 Human Condition Awards, Best Participant Award at the Greek Photo Biennale, and the Camera Club of New York. In 2007, she was nominated for the prestigious International Center of Photography (ICP) Infinity Awards. A natural at immersing herself in closed communities, in 2009, Beasley plans to live with and photograph a group of immigrant Mennonite farmers relocated from Belize to southern Mexico. A 1990 graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, her work is represented by Contact Press Images. She lives Jersey City, New Jersey with her dogs, Moishe and Howard.