Jeff Brouws  Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations

Jeff_Brouws_01 TAGS 55, Shamrock, Texas 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #55, Shamrock, Texas 1992

Jeff_Brouws_02 TAGS 53, Lind, Washington 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #53, Lind, Washington 1992

Jeff_Brouws_03 TAGS 52, Boron, California 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #52, Boron, California 1992

Jeff_Brouws_04 TAGS 49, Mojave, California 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #49, Mojave, California 1992

Jeff_Brouws_05 TAGS 46, Santa Rosa, New Mexico 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #46, Santa Rosa, New Mexico 1992

Jeff_Brouws_06 TAGS 37, Mojave, California 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #37, Mojave, California 1992

Jeff_Brouws_06 TAGS 41, Lind, Washington 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #41, Lind, Washington 1992

Jeff_Brouws_07 TAGS 34, Trona, California 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #34, Trona, California 1992

Jeff_Brouws_08 TAGS 33, Harlowton, Montana 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #33, Harlowton, Montana 1992

Jeff_Brouws_09 TAGS 31, Groom, Texas 1991

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #31, Groom, Texas 1991

Jeff_Brouws_10 TAGS 29, Formosa, California 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #29, Formosa, California 1992

Jeff_Brouws_11 TAGS 27, Fall River, Kansas 1993

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #27, Fall River, Kansas 1993

Jeff_Brouws_12 TAGS 26, San Lucas, California 1988

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #26, San Lucas, California 1988

Jeff_Brouws_13 TAGS 24, Lompoc, California 1989

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #24, Lompoc, California 1989

Jeff_Brouws_14 TAGS 23. Bakersfield, California 1988

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #23, Bakersfield, California 1988

Jeff_Brouws_15 TAGS 20, Bradley, California 1984

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #20, Bradley, California 1984

Jeff_Brouws_16 TAGS 19, Ludlow, California 1986

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #19, Ludlow, California 1986

Jeff_Brouws_17 TAGS 17, Bradley, California 1984

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #17, Bradley, California 1984

Jeff_Brouws_18 TAGS 7, Greenfield, California 1988

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #7, Greenfield, California 1988

Jeff_Brouws_19 TAGS 16, Fillmore, California 1988

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #16, Fillmore, California 1988

Jeff_Brouws_20 TAGS 32, Casper, Wyoming 1992

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #32, Casper, Wyoming 1992

-

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations by Jeff Brouws (published in 1992 in an edition of 1000) is an exact replica of Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations, first published in 1963. Mimicking Ruscha’s format, design and type treatment, the 5½” x 7” book contains 26 black and white shots of abandoned gas stations. While the images selected bear no geographic relation to Ruscha’s original photos (it is not a re-photographic project), they do share an aesthetic sensibility in the way both artists employ a deadpan, neutral gaze.

When Brouws began his project many stations were being abandoned in the early 1990s due to the implementation of new, tougher EPA requirements mandating that aging underground tanks had to be replaced, which required a huge capital outlay. Independents gas station owners were unable to bear this cost, while larger, better-funded multi-national corporations like Chevron and Shell could afford to meet these stricter regulations. Investigative reporting in the Los Angeles Times at the time suggested that major petroleum companies conspired with the EPA to drive competition out of business with these tactics. Armed with this knowledge while making the images—and having simultaneously undergone “a conversion experience of how one could look and interpret everyday landscapes” thanks to his reading into the essays of J.B. Jackson—Brouws saw a new dimensionality unfold in his work. Utilizing photography he could also make commentary on how economics and capital shape and impact the man-made environment.

Brouws’ series—initially begun as a simple riff on Ruscha’s original idea and a play on words—evolved to became a documentary typology reflecting this changing aspect of the commercial landscape. The two books, done thirty years apart, make visual commentary on the historical ascendancy and demise of this important element of roadside culture.

Excerpts of this work can also be seen in Various Small Books, MIT PRESS 2013, and will also be included in Ed Ruscha, Books & Co. at the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles, July 28 through September 9, 2016.

-

All images: courtesy Jeff Brouws

www.jeffbrouws.com