|Mike Brodie, #5060, 2006-2009|
Two young men in an empty silver-gray hopper railcar under a pale blue-white sky, wheat-colored grass to the left and the right, a line of hoppers and telephone poles trailing into the distance, a flat body of blue-gray water in the background, the hopper’s aqua-and-black sign (first line: “BSPX 1858”), sunlight slanting in from the left, illuminating the youths’ faces, casting the cars’ angular shadows on the yellow grass. Such are the particulars of Mike Brodie’s arresting photograph #5060 from his brilliant series A Period of Juvenile Prosperity (2006-2009). The image gives you plenty to contemplate and, at the same time, it makes you want to know more. Who are these guys? Where are they going? Why are they travelling this way? Are they on the run? Are they travelling together? What’s their future? It makes you want to know more about Brodie, too. Where was he located when he took this shot? How did he happen to be there? Was he travelling with these youths? Did he know them? The picture’s tilted perspective gives it a fresh, unstudied, snagged-on-the-wing look, a quick capture of railcar reality. Geoff Dyer, in his excellent "Artist in Training" (Bookforum, Summer 2013), a review of Brodie’s A Period of Juvenile Prosperity, says, “The pictures have the day-to-day intimacy and immediacy of a journal.” That’s the way Brodie’s great #5060 strikes me - the photographic equivalent of an inspired journal entry, a fragment of “the real thing,” nimbly caught with the tang, the freshness, still on it.
Postscript: See also Jessie Wender, "Mike Brodie's 'A Period of Juvenile Prosperity' " (“Photo Booth,” newyorker.com, January 29, 2013)