Art21: New York Close Up

What makes a documentary radical? In this film, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier reveals the personal story behind a series of videos and photographs of her family in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a selection of which were exhibited in "Video Studio: Changing Same" at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Employing and upending documentary traditions as a means to disrupt media stereotypes, Frazier collaborates with her mother and grandmother as fellow artists, giving them agency in depictions of themselves, their family, and the broader community. Interrogating how the toxic geography of Braddock has shaped multiple generations of her family’s bodies and psychology, Frazier’s images of her hometown mirror complex social problems that beset America today such as class inequity, access to health care, and environmental racism. “The mind is the battleground for photography,” says Frazier, who creates images that “tell my story because it hasn’t been told.” Featuring excerpts from the artist’s videos "Grandma Ruby" (2009), "A Mother to Hold" (2006), "Momme Portrait Series (Heads)" (2008), "Momme Portrait Series (Wrestle)" (2009), "Detox (Braddock U.P.M.C.)" (2011), and "Self-Portrait (United States Steel)" (2010), as well as photographs from the series "Notion of Family" (2002-ongoing). LaToya Ruby Frazier (b. 1982, Braddock, Pennsylvania, USA) lives and works in New Brunswick, New Jersey and New York, New York. CREDITS | "New York Close Up" Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough. Cinematography: Don Edler. Additional Camera: LaToya Ruby Frazier. Sound: Nicholas Lindner & Wesley Miller. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Paulina V. Ahlstrom, Don Edler, Amanda Long & Maren Miller. Design: Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: LaToya Ruby Frazier. Thanks: Frazier Family, Thomas Lax & Studio Museum in Harlem. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved. "New York Close Up" is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Toby Devan Lewis, the Dedalus Foundation, Inc., and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc. Additional support provided by The 1896 Studios & Stages. For more info: