Popsicle #15: A Period of Juvenile Prosperity by Mike Brodie


While photographing baseball players a couple of weeks ago in North Carolina, I was reminded of why I have an aversion to photographing people in uniform. Uniforms are like personality shields. Instead of seeing a person, you see a type. But uniforms aren’t just limited to athletes and police officers. A few years ago while working on a project with the fashion designers Rodarte, I was asked to photograph punk kids in Oakland. What I mostly encountered were gutter punks. To me their dreadlocks, ear gauges and facial tattoos made them as one-dimensional as their cardboard signs.

For this reason, I’ve always avoided Mike Brodie’s pictures of young train hoppers. This has been particularly hard to do in the last couple of months with the release of Brodie’s book and exhibition, A Period of Juvenile Prosperity. Making this even more difficult was the fact that the work was being championed by a great person, Paul Schiek, and was being shown in a great gallery, Yossi Milo. Most difficult of all was that the book was being published by one of my favorite publishers, Twin Palms.

While recently visiting Ampersand, the great art bookstore in Portland, I couldn’t resist any longer. After spending thirty seconds with A Period of Juvenile Prosperity, all of my preconceptions dropped away. Everything about this book is perfect: the size, printing, sequence, cover image, title and essay. Even the acknowledgements are perfect (“My mom, Frankie, for letting me go; my dad, Gary, for not being around;..and Savannah Locklin, my first love, for introducing me to and amazing new life worth living. Thank you all.”)

A Period of Juvenile Prosperity opened my eyes. The cliché lifestyle dropped away and I could see past the uniform to the ‘life worth living.’ At the end of Brodie’s brilliant essay, he writes “I don’t want to be famous, but I hope this book is remembered forever.” I have a feeling it will be.

– Alec Soth

Note: Over the last week littlebrownmushroom.com has been repeatedly hacked. We think we’ve finally resolved the issue. But if you encounter any difficulties, please email us at orders(at)littlebrownmushroom(dot)com. Thank you.

7 Replies to “Popsicle #15: A Period of Juvenile Prosperity by Mike Brodie”

  1. I really love these photographs and the book looks great… but, for another one of my needlessly indulgent reasons, I’m not too excited about acquiring this book. Or maybe I just don’t want to be. The consensus has been so expectedly consensual. I’m not bemoaning its prescribed success. I genuinely wish all the involved parties well. But It’s only April and this will be THE book release of the year and I’m already getting bored. Just looking elsewhere. My loss, I’m certain of it.

  2. For photographers, this book being released is like when you’re a subtle reserved kind of person who keeps a tastefully austere apartment and then someone wearing gold lamé pants walks in the room and begins singing Amazing Grace, and you know no one will ever listen to you talk about object oriented ontology ever again :(

  3. Looking at Brodie’s images makes me realize how misspent my own youth was. Some of these are achingly evocative.

  4. God, I love this book. I’ve been following The Polaroid Kidd since he showed at Needles and Pens in SF. It was already a sold out show when I saw it. We have a large population of train hopping kids in Olympia, WA where I live and work… it’s nice to see familiar faces in such an amazing collection of photographs. When I look at Brodie’s work, I am hopeful for our collective future.

  5. I saw this show at Yossi Milo. I though the composition of the photos was so brave; all harsh diagonals, full of energy and intensity. The best show I saw during my NY trip. I loved it.

  6. not a lot of young photographers can hold a candle to brodies composition / timing / use of color…the total coordinated media blowout of this endeavour was a little off putting…but i guess thats how you sell art and limited edition books these daze right???…thought you were going to be one of the sole voices of dissent there for a second alec, but enjoyed this post nonetheless…as for me i’m in love with these images but not the physical book…call me crazy but can’t a guy get some 2 page spreads in a book of beautiful horizontal photos??? is crossing the gutter some kinda sacrilege??? richard billingham certainly made it work…over and out

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