Sweet Ruin: The Brooklyn Domino Sugar Refinery
2013-14 (in progress)

Thank you, everyone who backed this project and made it possible.

Once the biggest sugar refinery in the world, Domino shut down in 2004, after a long struggle. Most Brooklynites of my generation know it as an icon on the landscape, multiplied on t-shirts and skateboard graphics. Urban explorers sly enough to breach the gates have found a playground of sublime, post-industrial texture and nostalgia.

I’ve been attracted for a long time to these iconic and esthetic aspects of Domino. I also realized that given the chance to photograph there, I’d want to explore beyond the surfaces.

In 2013, the owner of the site, Two Trees, generously agreed to let me in. I proposed an expansive—even messy—fusion of art, icon, and industrial history. I wanted to show the ruin as its majestic self, and also as a lens through which to explore the history of the place and its people.

In a sense, I found myself looking at a long-gone version of the country, through a recently-gone industry and community, through a soon-to-be gone abandoned factory.

At the same time I found myself working in the abstract, seeing how much chaos I could allow into the frame, while still making a coherent picture. The visual density and confusion of the place invited this kind of formal experiment.

This project will take its final form in a book, to be released by Schiffer Publishing in Fall, 2017. I’ve worked with Matthew Postal, an architectural historian who shows the deep connections between Domino, the global sugar trade, and the history of Brooklyn. I've also worked with Stella Kramer, a world-class photo editor, and with a group of former refinery employees, who tell some of Domino’s real stories.



Images are printed in archival pigment ink on heavy, high quality European baryta-coated paper. They are very high-resolution and have an incredible presence in the large sizes.

Please inquire about print availability. Some images are intended just for the book and will not be printed.


Open edition prints, to help raise funds for the project:

17 x 25 inches: $990

Large prints in limited editions of 10:

27 x 40 inches: $3000
40 x 60 inches: $4200

Prices will increase as each edition sells out. Image area is about 16 x 24, 25 x 38, 38 x 57, and varies slightly with some images. There is a 1" white boder on all sides of the large prints; a 1/2" border on all sides of the 17x25 prints. If you are local to NYC, I can have your print mounted on aluminum Dibond. This is a high-quality, flat, rigid, and archivally stable laminate. It allows many display options with or without a frame. I can also arrange framing or make framing suggestions.





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Paul Raphaelson