Brooklyn’s Sweet Ruin: Relics and Stories of the Domino Sugar Refinery will be in stores and online later this Fall. From the project statement:
Domino’s Brooklyn Sugar refinery, once the largest in the world, 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. But what was Domino? What stories were we missing?
In 2013, shortly before the site’s demolition, the real estate developers generously let me in to explore. I had proposed an expansive—even messy—fusion of art, document, and industrial history. I wanted to show the ruin as its majestic self, and also as a lens through which to see 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 company and community, through a soon-to-be gone labyrinth of architecture and machines.
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.
To bring this book into the world, I teamed with Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor Stella Kramer, architectural historian Matthew Postal, and art director Christopher Truch. I dug through photography and news archives at the Library of Congress, Brooklyn Public Library, and Brooklyn Historical Society. And I met with several former refinery employees, to hear some of Domino’s more personal stories. We launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover expenses, and signed a deal with Schiffer Publishing shortly after the campaign’s success.
Many thanks to everyone who backed the project or lent their support and enthusiasm.
Hardcover, clothbound with dust jacket.
12″ x 9″
138 color images; 128 pp
Media inquiries: Andrea Smith PR