“A Period of Juvenile Prosperity” is a collection of photographs by Mike Brodie, some of which are now on display at Chelsea’s Yossi Milo gallery.
In 2002, 17-year-old Mike Brodie walked away from his home and his life in California, a few personal items in a backpack, and joined America’s subculture of teenage train hoppers and squatters. Brodie immediately fell in love with life on the rails, as hard as could it be at times, the glorious freedom of riding freights across the country, and his extended band of fellow travelers became like a family.
All of which would have gone completely unnoticed to the rest of us except that, in 2004, a friend gave Brodie a Polaroid camera (earning him a new nickname, the Polaroid Kidd), and he discovered a second great passion, taking pictures. Which he proceeded to do at an astonishing pace, switching to 35mm film in 2006, and documenting all aspects of his life as he rode over 50,000 miles through 46 states, finally hopping off (for good?) in 2009. The result of all of this is an amazing collection of photographs, raw and beautiful, a fraction of which have been published in the book “A Period of Juvenile Prosperity,” and are now on display at the Yossi Milo gallery in Chelsea.
Amazing Photographs of a World Normally Unseen, in Mike Brodie’s “A Period of Juvenile Prosperity.”
Mike Brodie’s A Period of Juvenile Prosperity features several dozen color photographs from those years, a remarkably intimate portrait of a world most of us (all of us?) would likely have never otherwise seen, or even knew existed. And though Brodie and his crew are by no means a glamorous lot–travelers are most often ragged and filthy, crude and defiant, with drug and alcohol abuse an everyday fact of life–there’s no denying the magnetism and instant engagement you experience with these pictures. Of course, much of that has to do with Brodie’s instinctive feel for the medium: despite zero formal training in photography, his choice in contrast, color and compositions are all world-class.
Yosi Milo Gallery in Chelsea is Hosting Mike Brodie’s Extraordinary Exhibit of Photographs
But what also comes shining through these images in A Period of Juvenile Prosperity at Yossi Milo is Brodie’s fondness for his subjects, both the people in the pictures (and most of these are of people), and the landscape in which they are moving through, often at high speeds, and from various, precarious perches. “I know almost everyone I shoot,” says Brodie. “Three of the women in the book are ex-girlfriends and a couple of the guys… are best friends.” And though Brodie no longer considers himself a traveler, and hasn’t hopped a freight in years–today’s he’s settled into a life as a “mobile diesel mechanic”–his voluminous visual record of that part of life is vital and alive. For that, I have only gratitude.
Mike Brodie: A Period of Juvenile Prosperity will be at Yossi Milo through April 6. Yossi Milo is located on 10th Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can find more info and photographs on the Yossi Milo website.