The Brothers (2009-2010)

The Brothers have come back on occasion, but see, the Brothers are better prepared for this because they give themselves to God, they make public profession of poverty, so they aren’t attached to anything.
— Brother Brian (2010)
  My story of the Brothers began one morning when I was walking around a deserted college campus located on the grounds of a former military hospital, photographing abandoned barracks, a dried out courtyard with religious sculptures and a labyrinth created out of piles of stone.  I found an unlocked door labeled, “Sociology,” behind which were piles of old books lying under a paper sign “For the Taking.” It wasn’t until I saw a car parked outside the barracks that I became aware of the men living inside.

 

My story of the Brothers began one morning when I was walking around a deserted college campus located on the grounds of a former military hospital, photographing abandoned barracks, a dried out courtyard with religious sculptures and a labyrinth created out of piles of stone.  I found an unlocked door labeled, “Sociology,” behind which were piles of old books lying under a paper sign “For the Taking.” It wasn’t until I saw a car parked outside the barracks that I became aware of the men living inside.

  I was initially drawn into the Brothers’ home by my desire to document the compelling architectural spaces of their lives. I wanted to reveal the social and spatial dynamics of their community, but ultimately I came under the thrall of the men themselves. The more connected I became to their story the more interested I became in documenting, investigating and constructing one of my own.

 

I was initially drawn into the Brothers’ home by my desire to document the compelling architectural spaces of their lives. I wanted to reveal the social and spatial dynamics of their community, but ultimately I came under the thrall of the men themselves. The more connected I became to their story the more interested I became in documenting, investigating and constructing one of my own.

The places and things that were dear to our hearts, were painful to leave, but not as bad as if we defined ourselves by the place we lived.
— Brother Felix (2010)
  When I met the Brothers, who are educators, the college where they taught had just gone bankrupt, leaving them and their mission in limbo. One morning I dropped in for breakfast and I asked them what would happen to their longtime home. I looked around the table at the men in their designated seats. They were not yet able to contemplate the possibility: “Oh the Brothers will stay right where they are, and we’ll work something out.”

 

When I met the Brothers, who are educators, the college where they taught had just gone bankrupt, leaving them and their mission in limbo. One morning I dropped in for breakfast and I asked them what would happen to their longtime home. I looked around the table at the men in their designated seats. They were not yet able to contemplate the possibility: “Oh the Brothers will stay right where they are, and we’ll work something out.”

  But soon after I left Santa Fe their longtime home was taken over by the city.  After sixty years of building their community the five remaining men had to move out, one at a time.  Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church said the displacement meant the “demise” of the Brothers’ mission on the site. “Living in the grace of God,” as they put it, these men are not supposed to be attached to their physical surroundings, but this was difficult for them.  When one Brother wrote me that, “our community has been stripped,” I returned to photograph what remained.

 

But soon after I left Santa Fe their longtime home was taken over by the city.  After sixty years of building their community the five remaining men had to move out, one at a time.  Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church said the displacement meant the “demise” of the Brothers’ mission on the site. “Living in the grace of God,” as they put it, these men are not supposed to be attached to their physical surroundings, but this was difficult for them.  When one Brother wrote me that, “our community has been stripped,” I returned to photograph what remained.

But even so, I discovered that I was attached. I’ve been here for forty-seven years, and it was really hard to see all of these things go. You know, things I had built and worked on.
— Brother Brian (2010)

The Brothers’ story is about five—now four—aging men who chose to answer “the call” and live together in life-long devotion. It is the story of how these men(and the many before them) painstakingly nurtured a religious community as a means of pursuing their vocation. It is also the story of how that community was lost.

Telling their story began as an investigation, but quickly became more than that.

The Brother’s move took ten months. It had a beginning and an end. My story of the Brothers follows no such linear narrative. It started the moment I saw Brother Brian’s red pick-up truck, but has since taken a different and unexpected course.