When first looking at Stephen Brookbank’s series, Live / Work, the photographs frequently appear to be concerned with the ongoing tension between residential and industrial land use, a fairly traditional theme in the cultural landscape. This would be a misconception. Instead, by framing where people live in close proximity to where people work, Brookbank reveals more subtle aspects of the relationship. That these images are not harmonious in a visual sense is clear, but, in their very discord, they tell a story of co-joined un-identical twins: co-existing despite themselves because of their interdependence.
Rather than being a photographer who is documenting a situation at the expense of people and exploiting their way of life, Brookbank feels a true affection for these people, their lives and their workplaces. It’s the way many of us may be attracted to a mutt as opposed to a graceful purebred. He is clearly more interested in mongrels that poodles. As he says: “I am attempting to deal with the humanity of a neighborhood in the omnipotent presence of such things as a transmission grid or industry or the power plant…to emphasize the resilience of our working towns and cities.”
excerpts from an essay by