Van Zoetendaal Publishers

October 9, 2013

Mike Brodie

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Awe-inspiring photographs require no explanation. When a photo hits you between the eyes you just don’t have time to start asking yourself: does this fall into the category of conceptual or documentary? In terms of art history, that’s a totally irrelevant debate. You simply look and experience with breathtaking wonder. That’s exactly what happens when you look at a Mike Brodie photo. In a pure, authentic way, he portrays his personal experiences of his meanderings across the southern states of the US. We feel privileged to be witness to his intimate observations. The love and friendships he encounters during his period of illegal train hopping, the often harsh and poverty-ridden circumstances in which he and his associates find themselves, the romance and the freedom of this simple and sober existence – all are starkly conveyed in his photographic account. The orange sunlight, the odour and the bravado exude off the pages. Simply overwhelming. A Period of Juvenile Prosperity is the title of the book recently published by Twin Palms Publishers, a publisher I’ve become a devout fan of due to their long tradition of creating astonishingly magnificent photo books. Editing and book design is by Jack Woody and the typography by Arlyn Nathan. The book consists of 104 pages and is 29 cm wide and 34 cm high, hardbound with dust cover (American folded). Front and end leaf are a full bleed, full colour image of a set of train rails, taken from a moving train. As I stated right at the start: Awe-inspiring photographs transcend all else; in the same way, the photography works in spite of the book design. The format is rigid and the cardboard used for the book cover is extremely thick, printed on solid mat mc. For this type of dynamic photography I would have chosen a subtler and more elegant – and perhaps even less sacred – ‘edifice’. But the pure quality of the photography, combined with superb lithography and exquisitely printed with a glossy layer in China, easily overshadows any attempts to reduce its impact.

Mike Brodie, A Period of Juvenile Prosperity (Twin Palms Publishers) 2013

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