Jeff Brouws turns his lens away from the suburban cultural landscape of run-down motels, neon-lit gas stations and industrial parks towards a more carefree, playful America in his series Inside the Live Reptile Tent - small town funfairs full of bright lights and bold imagery. Dizzying roller coasters and spinning Ferris wheels make their way into large-scale colour prints, evoking the giddy whirl of a fairground visit.
Born in San Francisco in 1955, Brouws is a self-taught artist, pursuing photography since he was a boy of 13, roaming the railroad and industrial corridors of the South Bay Peninsula. Over the course of 30 years, Brouws has compiled a visual survey of America's slowly evolving rural, urban and suburban cultural landscapes. Using single photographs as subtle narrative and compiling typologies to index the nation's character, he revels in the "readymades" found in many of these environments.
"Initially what I examined were the older elements of roadside culture," says Brouws. "What Walker Evans called the 'historical contemporary.' I was on a road trip - this was purely visual engagement: I saw something that attracted me and made a photograph."
Brouws was influenced by the New Topographic Movement championed by Ed Ruscha - to whom he paid homage with a series of photographs in 1992 entitled Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations.