Industrial Still Life (Denderah)
archival digital pigment print
12" x 18"
In his Industrial Still Life series, James Cagle photographed the crumbling remnants of the Portland Cement Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The capture scenes of rusted pipes, scattered industrial detritus, and piles of rocks and rubble serve as a somber homage to what was once celebrated as the “most modern [cement plant] in the country.” In contrast to many of Cagle’s other photographic projects, this body of work is compositionally dense. At the same time, he continued to honor the formal characteristics of the medium, reveling in the interactions between shapes, line, color, and light.
Cagle’s Industrial Still Life series is keeping with a style of documentary photography coined “ruin photography” or “disaster photography.” Although artistic renderings of architectural decay are not new to art historical canon (think, for example, of Renaissance-era paintings of dilapidated Greek columns and temples), contemporary ruin photography has gained increasing momentum within the context of America’s post-industrial landscape. The now demolished Manitowoc based factory was Wisconsin’ s first and only source for Portland cement, a product critical to modern construction.
Gift of the artist