LaToya Ruby Frazier Takes on Levi's

What is the responsibility of an artist to her community? In this film, artist and activist LaToya Ruby Frazier discusses the economic and environmental decline of her hometown—Braddock, Pennsylvania—the city that the clothing company Levi’s used as inspiration and backdrop for a major advertising campaign in 2010. Having photographed in Braddock since she was sixteen years old, Frazier’s black-and-white images of her family and their surroundings present a stark contrast to the campaign images of “urban pioneers” and slogans such as “everybody’s work is equally important.” In a performance developed in collaboration with the artist Liz Magic Laser, Frazier carries out a choreographed series of movements on the sidewalk in front of the temporary Levi’s Photo Workshop in SoHo. Wearing a costume of ordinary Levi’s clothes, the artist’s repetitive and relentless motion ultimately destroys the jeans she’s wearing.

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: Mary Ann Toman. Cinematography: John Marton & Andrew David Watson. Sound: Nicholas Lindner & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Paulina V. Ahlstrom, Don Edler & Maren Miller. Design: Open. Artwork: LaToya Ruby Frazier & Liz Magic Laser. Additional Photography: Liz Magic Laser. Thanks: Kim Bourus, Ron Clark, Higher Pictures & The Whitney Independent Study Program. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2011. All rights reserved.