I discovered the Bayberry Dunes archive four years ago while working as a National Park Service Ranger on Fire Island. The archive contains decades worth of photographs, taken across Fire Island by National Park Service Rangers for a variety of purposes, including law enforcement. The archive, owned and preserved by the Park Service, paints a starkly different picture of Fire Island in its heyday.
The name, Bayberry Dunes, refers to a short-lived squatter-community that flourished in the 1970s. Populated by hippies and New York City socialites, it was disbanded by the government after a previous landowner donated it to build park facilities. Today a few houses remain, occupied by employees and guests of the Park Service. They are the only remnants of a once idyllic place.
Darker histories are often buried beneath the visage of idyllic places. The stories that are edited into and out of places like Fire Island shape our world profoundly. With “Bayberry Dunes” I am interested in the potential to recreate, reimagine and reexamine those stories. Pairing the archival images with a written narrative I want to set out to create a new history, one which stands in contrast to our collective understanding of the barrier beach. What if Bayberry Dunes was not disbanded? How might storms have shaped it?