Every morning, Mike Brodie’s neighbor wanders over in a golf cart outside of Brodie’s single wide trailer to talk, and to fill him in on the upcoming days’ work. With his inability to physically walk, he honks, and waits patiently for Brodie to emerge. A diesel mechanic by trade, Brodie regularly assists this Winnemucca, Nevada native in fixing an array of aging heavy equipment and pick-up trucks that keep his drilling company afloat. “Sometimes Joe just rambles on and on and on, but I just listen,” Brodie tells me. “It’s a good relationship for me. He's been drilling water wells for 54 years. He's 80 years old. I keep his stuff running and he lets me borrow equipment and photograph anything I want.”
Brodie is fascinated by work, and is equally fascinated by photographing that work. "I couldn't do this at my old jobs," he says. "I couldn't photograph the work I was doing, I couldn't leave town, I couldn't ride freight trains, I was just a worker bee, trapped within a big business management structure that would not allow me to be creative or explore the world the way I wanted. Now I just barter. I trade. I like building community through sharing and helping out my friends." A 10-minute ride down into the valley of Pershing County, Brodie is putting this idea into practice, borrowing his neighbors’ backhoe, boom truck, and forklift to build a house on 20 acres of land he bought a year ago. He has chosen to build his home from the ground up alongside his wife, Celeste, a challenging and ambitious endeavor they both regard in a nonchalant and lighthearted manner. The land is raw, littered with sagebrush, rocky soil, ground nesting birds and silence. A stream can be heard nearby, mountains flanked on either side, and once in awhile in the far distance you can hear the faint sound of Union Pacific engines passing through as they make their way to Elko or Reno. Brodie loves it here, as does his wife, who works as a conductor on those railroad engines.
Brodies’ passion, curiosity, and appetite for creating images that are equally relevant and meaningful to his life are evident. Newly processed negatives are meticulously scrutinized over and over again. The photographs being displayed for this exhibit are provisional. It is current, but only acts as a prelude to the extensive long-term project Brodie has been working on that will span many years to come.
- Austin McManus
Mike Brodie has held solo exhibitions at Yossi Milo (NY), M+B (LA), Stephen Wirtz, Gallerie (SF) Les Filles Du Calvaire (Paris), and Needles and Pens (SF).
His work is included in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive.
Brodie has been featured in The New Yorker, Time Magazine, The Guardian, Huffington Post, NPR, DAZED, American Photo Magazine, The Fader and many more publications. Two books, A Period of Juvenile Prosperity and Tones of Dirt and Bone, have been published of Mike Brodie’s work through Twin Palms Publishing. Brodie was born in Arizona in 1985 and currently lives and works in Winnemucca, Nevada.