Back in 2006 I started to write a book commissioned and published by (then) Berg (now Bloomsbury) called American Visual Culture. Whilst in the midst of research and writing, around 2008, I was asked to consider an image for the cover and the suggestion was one of those stock, semi-blurred photographs of yellow New York Taxi Cabs (and medallion cabs, to boot, not even the Checker kind). I said ‘no’ and that I could find better, and that I had an image in mind: Jeff Brouws’ Mohawk, Delano, Calif., 1989
I had no idea about how to get permission, so I looked up Jeff on the internet, found his email and asked if we could use the image for the cover. From that email we began a lengthy and continuing correspondence about all things photographic. But we have worked together on other things, too. In 2008, I invited Jeff to give a keynote talk at a conference I co-organised on the theme of American visual culture since 1900, generously supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art. After that I wrote a catalogue essay, ‘Out of Sight’, for Jeff’s exhibition, After Trinity: The Remnants and Realities of America’s Nuclear Landscape, at Galeria Toni Tàpies – Barcelona. Most recently, and out of our shared interest in the photobooks of Ed Ruscha, we worked with Wendy Burton, Phil Taylor, and Hermann Zschiegner on Various Small Books (MIT Press).[I contributed the introductory essay, ‘Like Trading Dust for Oranges: Ed Ruscha and Things of Interest’]
The book ended up being adopted as the ‘catalogue’ for Ed Ruscha: Books & Co. at the Gagosian in 2013.
Jeff also finds time to make astonishing photographs, too, and has been making night photographs for some considerable time. The photographs in ‘and now it’s dark’ are part retrospective/part new work and will offer an extended and unique opportunity to see these works in the UK for the first time.