The bad news for admirers of Mike Brodie’s raw and romantic photographs of youthful train hoppers is that Brodie seems to be done with photography. “Being an artist all my life is not realistic,” he told the LA Times. “This was all kind of an accident.” His work was shown by Yossi Milo in New York and M+B in Los Angeles earlier this spring, but the attention did not make Brodie particularly comfortable. He graduated recently from the Nashville Auto Diesel College and is currently working as an auto mechanic.
The good news is that Brodie published a book of his work before walking away from the field. A Period of Juvenile Prosperity (Twin Palms), is a collection of his photographs of fellow train travelers, which Brodie initially uploaded to the Internet under the name The Polaroid Kidd. There, the work was spotted by various photo enthusiasts. The first edition of the book has sold out.
Brodie hopped on his first freight train in Pensacola, Florida, when he was 17 and continued traveling around the country by freight train for ten years, covering 46 states. The pictures are social documents of a community of restless, radical young people living off the grid, as intimate as Nan Goldin’s photographs of her friends and lovers. They’re also poetic, frank, occasionally breathtaking and sometimes harrowing. They document a decidedly American adventure, On the Road for the 21st century. The train hoppers are dirty, sometimes bloody, young and rebellious in style and attitude, but the photographs are entirely seductive. I'd love to see more pictures from Brodie, but there's something wonderul about the fact that he could care less.