21 January, 2014

A Period of Juvenile Prosperity by Mike Brody [Nick, Central City Library]

A Period of Juvenile Prosperity is a collection of gritty and emotive photographs by Mike Brody, documenting five years of his train-hopping travails across the United States in the company of a ragtag group of bohemian cohorts. The prints are hewn from earthy hues of warm and slightly faded colour, at times luminous in the soft golden light of dawn or dusk, and appear as if distilled from the dirt and grime of months on the road.

Together the body of work forms a brawny narrative, of defiant young outcasts, rough sleeping and hard living vagabonds with an unerring sense of post-punk style, traversing the seamy margins of society, and framed amidst stark, transitory, and anonymous landscapes.

The depictions of free-wheeling camaraderie, and the lonely beauty of the itinerant lifestyle could easily slip into romanticism, but for Brody's candid depictions of the adversity he encounters. Here, weathered youths with drawn and pallid faces make their squats amidst the rusted hulks of dirty carriages, scavenging food amidst rail-side detritus, a coal heap for a bed, a battered copy of The Rum Dairy for a pillow.

The emotional tenderness of Brody's work stands as testament to his total emersion in the lifestyle. The images are highly subjective and communicate a powerful authenticity of experience I often find lacking in contemporary art. There is no pretense in Brody's work, for him the journey is the destination, deeply felt and lovingly photographed.

Title: A Period of Juvenile Prosperity
Author: Mike Brody
ISBN: 9781936611027
Published: 2012
Publisher: Santa Fe, N.M : Twin Palms.

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