Many of these images are from the photographs of Bernd and Hilla Becher. While the Bechers are most known for their images of civic and industrial structures that are highly engineered and massively solid, I was more attracted to the Becher's images of late 19th century coal tipples for their completely opposite qualities.
The tipple's engineering is clearly makeshift. The structure is thin, open and insubstantial. They are often positioned obliquely to expose that the conveyors are strengthened with repairs of the weak and slight. Askew and awry, they once lifted the masses of coal to be tipped into the upper sorting hoppers.
In another way, the tipples resemble ladders. They evoke aspirations to climb out of the steep embankments. Similarly, they recall feeble towers of Babel, their frailty is a result of abandoned beginnings. To celebrate this impulse to get above base origins, I have adorned the structures and surroundings with spare but intense color, a small residue of imagined high mindedness. Yet, the physical structures still struggle to rise above thicker paint or rushing perspectives. Age and entropy make merely maintaining verticality a virtue and a goal.
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