LaToya Ruby Frazier: A Haunted Capital

January 17–March 9, 2014
Opening Reception Friday, January 17, 5-7 pm

This exhibition uses social documentary and portraiture to create a personal visual history of an industrial town’s decline. Through 44 photographic works of her family and their hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, LaToya Ruby 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.”

For Frazier, personal history and community history are intertwined. She has been working on her series The Notion of Family for over a decade, focusing her lens primarily on her grandmother, mother, and self. Each generation represents a different period in Braddock’s evolution, from prosperity in the 1920s and 1930s, to its abandonment by state and local government in the 1980s. In A Haunted Capital, Frazier discards the objective relationship between artist and subject that has characterized the documentary tradition. Instead, she takes a place on both sides of the lens, often collaborating with her mother and highlighting the dynamic relationships between mothers and daughters.

The bodies of the Frazier women, all affected by illnesses related to Braddock’s industrial history, act as a metaphor for the decay of Braddock’s landscape. Despite chronic illnesses among a high percentage of the town’s residents, the local hospital closed in 2010, further reducing employment and access to advanced healthcare. Photographs of the demolished University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Braddock Hospital serve as a reminder of local activists’ unsuccessful struggle to keep it open. 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.

About the Artist

Born in Braddock, Pennsylvania, in 1982, Frazier received her BFA in 2004 from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and her MFA in 2007 from Syracuse University. Frazier, whose work was 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.

LaToya Ruby Frazier: A Haunted Capital is organized by the Brooklyn Museum.

Read Karen Rosenberg’s New York Times review of the Brooklyn Museum’s showing of A Haunted Capital here.
Read Liena Vayzman’s Daily Serving review here.
Find Jean Dykstra’s Art in America write up here.

On Art 21

LaToya Ruby Frazier Makes Moving Pictures
from New York Close Up on Art 21, premiered February 2, 2012

LaToya Ruby Frazier Takes on Levi’s
from New York Close Up on Art 21, premiered June 17, 2011

The Anderson Gallery’s 2014 winter exhibitions are made possible in part by generous support from Keith Fabry Reprographic Solutions and Rick’s Custom Frame + Gallery in Richmond.