Front Room Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition of photographs by Paul Raphaelson, entitled "Sweet Ruin". Featuring photographs taken at the site of Brooklyn's Domino Sugar Refinery, Raphaelson's images chronicle the final state of the once bustling industrial complex before its dismantling and demolition.
In 2013, Paul Raphaelson received permission from the developers of the Domino site to explore every square foot of the refinery just weeks before its gutting and demolition. Raphaelson is the last photographer given access to the factory.
At its peak Domino was the biggest industry in Brooklyn and was responsible for 90 percent of the sugar production in the US. Domino sugar factory was its own ecosystem. For more than a hundred years workers toiled, ate bathed and drank beer (from a bar in the basement) at the enormous compound.
By the 1980s Domino had lost its monopolistic grip on the market, and struggled against decades of increasing competition from similar cane refineries, the beet sugar industry, from both non-sugar sweeteners and from corn syrup. The Department of Labor reports that over the same period, manufacturing jobs in Brooklyn fell over 60%. The Domino refinery, which had once employed 4,500 laborers working around the clock, in 1919, was down to a skeleton crew of 220 workers by the time it closed in 2004.