LaToya Ruby Frazier: A Haunted Capital uses social documentary and portraiture to create a personal visual history of an industrial town’s decline. Through approximately 40 photographic works of her family and their hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier offers an intimate exploration of the effects of deindustrialization on the lives of individuals and communities. Home to one of America’s first steel mills, Braddock now has a population below 2,500 and has been declared a “distressed municipality.”
Frazier began to explore Braddock’s history in her series Notion of Family, four examples of which are on view in this exhibition. That project uses the bodies of the artist, her mother, and her grandmother to both reveal complex intergenerational relationships and to serve as a metaphor for their town’s decay. Frazier’s portrayal of this American landscape is in stark contrast to images from a recent corporate ad campaign set in Braddock, which she felt not only erased the troubled realities of her endangered town but also excluded the community to which her family belongs.
Frazier, whose work is featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, is Associate Curator for the Mason Gross galleries and teaches photography at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.