Jeff Brouws. Silent Monoliths. The Coaling Tower Project.

Photographs by Jeff Brouws. Text by John Hankey and Marcella Hackbardt.
Steidl, Gottingen, Germany, 2019. 208 pp., 158 illustrations, 11x11".

Publisher's Description

Born in San Francisco in 1955, self-taught photographer Jeff Brouws has spent the last 30 years photographing various aspects of the American cultural landscape, often assembling typologies of common architectural forms in everyday environments. Here he documents a variety of concrete coaling towers standing dormant in isolated brownfields or along active railroad lines. Built between 1907 and '56, these remnants of the railroad industry were once used to dispense coal into steam locomotives. Seemingly impervious to the vicissitudes of time, decay or outright removal, these sculptural examples of former industrial brawn recall an earlier technological era most of us never witnessed. Brouws practices an evidentiary form of photography, taking stand-alone portraits of coaling towers in homage to Hilla and Bernd Becher, as well as wider perspectives revealing the broader landscapes. These two approaches reflect his dual interests in the New Topographics and the compiling of typologies.

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