Friday, October 07, 2011

LaToya Ruby Frazier "Takes On Levi's" Video on Art 21

by Frazier
From Art 21

Following opinion is by me, John Morris and may not be shared by other contributors to the blog.

Art 21 has a good video documenting LaToya Ruby Frazier's performance protest against Levi's use of her hometown of Braddock in it's recent ad campaign.

I have often wondered why, in story after story done on Braddock, so much of it's reality doesn't come across. In the case of many, it's because of lack of knowledge, but a larger factor seems to be conscious efforts to distort the picture.

LaToya is from Braddock, spent most of her life there, to my knowledge and has built a body of brutal work about the hard life of many people there.

After watching the video, would one know that US Steel's Braddock Works is still very much up and running? It is and employes around 2000 people, a number not far from Braddock's total population. In fact, when UPMC, Braddock was open, the total number of jobs in the borough almost exceeded the number of people living there.

The tragic landscape of collapsing buildings in Braddock has to be the result of something a bit more complex.

Was the town's tiny size a factor?

Why did so few workers choose to live in Braddock? What role did stereotypes against living in industrial area's play?

Did the 40 year debate over the construction of an expressway requiring the destruction of over half the town's buildings have an impact? (Why do almost none of the national stories about Braddock not mention these plans?)

Is the fact that a large part of Braddock is within a river flood zone a factor? Can anything be done about this?

Has local political corruption been a factor?

Yes, perhaps Levi's campaign was silly, but at least they left some cash in the hands of a few people who are actively working in the town and a message of hopeful, if dreamy optimism. IMHO, much of LaToya's work about Braddock is at least as exploitive and leaves very little positive in it's wake.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the difference between latoya's photographs of braddock's residents and levi's photographs of braddock's residents is that any proceeds from latoya's photographs, went strictly into latoya's pocket ... where's levi's actually built a community center, paid many residents bills for quite some time, provided the library with a children's librarian for a year, doubled the size of the urban farm, built a batting cage for the baseball field, stocked the field's food stand, provided 3 benefit concerts, sponsored community day and that's just to name a few.

what ms. frazier fails to mention in her "take on levi's" videos is that she actually wanted to be the photographer for the campaign ... and was not selected in the end.