In 2007, James Cagle began documenting the dilapidated remnants of the Portland Cement Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. His resulting photographic series, Industrial Still Life, reveals a beautifully dense and evocative world filled with broken and crumbling structures alongside discarded industrial equipment. Although this Wisconsin-based cement plant was once celebrated as the “most modern in the country,” Cagle found its collapsing remains evocative of nineteenth-century expeditionary photography, particularly documentary photographs of Egyptian ruins. The artist skillfully combines these narrative references to the ancient world with the more formal qualities of his chosen medium. In tightly composed images, Cagle captures chance arrangements of geometric and organic shapes, textured surfaces, overlapping lines, and saturated colors. This interaction of formal elements reframes reality, and offers compositions so detailed they demand concentrated attention—and reward the viewer with the discovery of things normally unseen.
|Sturgeon Bay, WI|