Some of the images are soft, feminine, intimate. Others are pulled back, harshly lit, topographic. Both approaches are accurate depictions of this desolate space. Ten years later I am attempting to understand by existing within a plot of land not intended for me. There is a generational lapse within this chain link fence of fathers and sons dating back to 1899. It was heavy, backbreaking, manual labor beyond my own strength and ability. “Men left there broken,” that’s what my mother said. I think she was glad my father didn’t give them another twenty-five years.
The landscape holds memories it cannot share; I am attempting to piece together these stories. Step one is existing: walking, boots on dirt, hands on soil. It is a futile attempt at physically understanding something that I never truly will. It is about familial connection to land and circumstance, the cards we’ve been dealt and the ways in which we respond. In this space we are the archeologists of our own histories, weaving first hand accounts with oral traditions to represent the “ideal” moments of industrial America. It is a collaboration with my father, but also every other individual who stepped foot inside of these buildings. Tiffin’s American Standard plant is only one of thousands of shuttered Rust Belt factories that litter the heartland. This story isn’t unique, and in that lies both its power and importance.