This talk discusses photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier’s exhibition The Last Cruze (2019), which documents the closure of the GM automobile plant in Lordstown, Ohio, by linking it to a history of images of workers leaving the factory. Situating her artwork in relation to the critique of documentary launched by San Diego school photographers Fred Lonidier, Martha Rosler, and Allan Sekula in the 1970s, it considers the centrality of portraiture to her account of work and unemployment. Finally, in the face of a rise of nationalist, racist, and xenophobic right-wing populism, it examines how The Last Cruze refuses to concede the terrain of family and community to reactionary forces by providing another account of work and industry, and of community, culture, and family, that taps the critical potential of working-class cultures of organizing and mutual aid.
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Image Credit: LaToya Ruby Frazier, Louis Robinson, Jr., UAW Local 1714, Recording Secretary, at UAW Local 1112 Reuther, Scandy, Alli union hall, (34 years in at GM Lordstown Complex, die setter), Lordstown, OH, 2019. © LaToya Ruby Frazier. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels