• Features
  • Olivia Becchio Evokes the Trauma of Islander in ‘It’s a Shame for Ray’

    Olivia Becchio is 24 year-old photographer from Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts, USA. She received a BFA in Photography in 2017, and currently works as a waitress during the winter and as a landscaper in summer, alongside her personal projects. Shot on the island, her series It’s a Shame About Ray deals with the experience of living on a island, as a psychological space, and it has just developed into a book.

    How did you come to photography?
    Photography has always been attractive to me for its analytical and metaphorical tendencies. I think of it much like writing, which I also practice, in the way unrelated images can be placed next to each other to evoke a feeling or meaning otherwise not seen or felt, similar to the way language is used in a poem.

    “It’s a Shame about Ray is an acknowledgment of that trauma and how it is experienced communally and shapes a landscape just as it does a memory”.

    I am tragically sentimental and thus obsessed with documenting my experience. I have come to enjoy the space where images exist in between a memory and a falsehood and how they often offer insight into ourselves rather than insight into what is photographed.

    Walking on Broad Channel Island with Maureen Drennan

    Introduce us to your series It’s a Shame about Ray
    It’s a Shame About Ray, as a series, aims to articulate an island as a psychological space and to document a ‘coming of age’ brought about by the realization of death and how one comes to understand it. Island living attracts a certain type of person seeking an experience or an escape but often traps its youth with its illusion of safety. And though our community is strong, as isolated communities often are, our history is plagued with trauma many suffering from substance abuse or struggling with mental health issues. We’ve lost many much too young. It’s a Shame About Ray is an acknowledgment of that trauma and how it is experienced communally and shapes a landscape just as it does a memory.

    Where does this title come from?
    The title It’s a Shame About Ray came from an album (also the title track) by a Massachusetts’ band called the Lemonheads. They were a band that I listened too frequently as an adolescent. According to the song writer the name came from a newspaper heading about a young boy who fell to his death down a grain cellar. I believe the song writer, Evan Dando, saw himself and everyone he knew in the boy’s  story. I don’t think of ‘Ray’ as any one specific person but rather a place holder for all that I have lost and a signifier for all of us who tempt, and even at times, run willingly towards death.

    Enjoy It’s a Shame About Ray on her website.