Video production: Carolin Röckelein/Soundtrack and voiceover: Erin Lang

 

The group exhibition Rust looks at the decline of the American Rust Belt through the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, Stephen Shore and LaToya Ruby Frazier. Their nuanced takes offer complementary views on the industrial Northeast and Midwest since the late 1970s to the present day, against a backdrop of wider societal changes in the face of drastic industrial regression.

 

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

 

“When you photograph something head-on, you create the greatest possible presence, and the risk of being subjective is lowest that way. We need clarity, not sentimentality.” –Bernd Becher

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Blast Furnaces, Ensley, Alabama, USA, 1982
Silver-gelatin print
50 × 60 cm
19 3/4 × 23 5/8 inches

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Blast Furnaces, Ensley, Alabama, USA, 1982
Silver-gelatin print
50 × 60 cm
19 3/4 × 23 5/8 inches

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Blast Furnaces, Ensley, Alabama, USA, 1982
Silver-gelatin print
50 × 60 cm
19 3/4 × 23 5/8 inches

Details
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Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Blast Furnace, Mingo Junction, Ohio, USA, 1979
Silver-gelatin print
50 × 60 cm
19 3/4 × 23 5/8 inches

The work of Bernd and Hilla Becher is characterized by a minimalistic presentation with an emphasis on form and architecture. In the late 1970s and early 1980s they made several journeys to the Rust Belt and documented the now obsolete industries of the area. From their time there, they present photographs of Blast Furnaces, the large structures responsible for the first stage in steel production, smelting iron ore so it can be further processed.

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Blast Furnace, Mingo Junction, Ohio, USA, 1979
Silver-gelatin print
50 × 60 cm
19 3/4 × 23 5/8 inches

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Blast Furnace, Mingo Junction, Ohio, USA, 1979
Silver-gelatin print
50 × 60 cm
19 3/4 × 23 5/8 inches

Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 1

The work of Bernd and Hilla Becher is characterized by a minimalistic presentation with an emphasis on form and architecture. In the late 1970s and early 1980s they made several journeys to the Rust Belt and documented the now obsolete industries of the area. From their time there, they present photographs of Blast Furnaces, the large structures responsible for the first stage in steel production, smelting iron ore so it can be further processed.

Due to the challenges in accurately presenting the complex, tangling forms of pipes within Blast Furnaces, they became one of the artists’ favorite structures to shoot, Hilla even nicknaming them ‘octopus’ given the extended pipes’ resemblance to tentacles.

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Blast Furnace, Braddock/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 1980
Silver-gelatin print
60 × 50 cm
23 5/8 × 19 3/4 inches

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Blast Furnace, Braddock/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 1980
Silver-gelatin print
60 × 50 cm
23 5/8 × 19 3/4 inches

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Blast Furnace, Braddock/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 1980
Silver-gelatin print
60 × 50 cm
23 5/8 × 19 3/4 inches

Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 1

Due to the challenges in accurately presenting the complex, tangling forms of pipes within Blast Furnaces, they became one of the artists’ favorite structures to shoot, Hilla even nicknaming them ‘octopus’ given the extended pipes’ resemblance to tentacles.

The Bechers’ life project as custodians and preservers of the industrial landscape, and of cataloguing and ordering their photographs, lies in stark contrast to the entropy they portray. Despite the lack of people in their depictions, the artists' rigor and apparent detachment nevertheless belies a deeply felt compassion for the buildings and structures they portray and the people associated with them.

 

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

 

“To see something ordinary, something you’d see every day, and recognize it as a photographic possibility – that’s what I’m interested in.” –Stephen Shore

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Washington Street, Struthers, Ohio, October 27, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Washington Street, Struthers, Ohio, October 27, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Stephen Shore
Washington Street, Struthers, Ohio, October 27, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 1
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Eddie's Wagon Wheel, Bridge Street, Struthers, Ohio, October 27, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

In the early 1970s, Stephen Shore and Hilla Becher developed an artistic friendship, that was mutually influential. Whilst interested in this same pivotal point in history, Shore tells the story with a focus on the strain put on the people and towns of the Rust Belt in a series of photographs originally commissioned by Fortune Magazine in 1977 for the article ‘Hard Times Come to Steeltown’.

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Eddie's Wagon Wheel, Bridge Street, Struthers, Ohio, October 27, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Stephen Shore
Eddie's Wagon Wheel, Bridge Street, Struthers, Ohio, October 27, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 1

In the early 1970s, Stephen Shore and Hilla Becher developed an artistic friendship, that was mutually influential. Whilst interested in this same pivotal point in history, Shore tells the story with a focus on the strain put on the people and towns of the Rust Belt in a series of photographs originally commissioned by Fortune Magazine in 1977 for the article ‘Hard Times Come to Steeltown’.

The streets in these color photographs appear unnervingly depopulated and deserted. By precisely controlling the coloration in his pictures, Shore combines the style of documentary photography with a personal, subjective viewpoint.

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Gilbridge Street at Ridge Road, Lackawanna, New York, October 24, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Washington Street, Struthers, Ohio, October 27, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Gilbridge Street at Ridge Road, Lackawanna, New York, October 24, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Stephen Shore
Gilbridge Street at Ridge Road, Lackawanna, New York, October 24, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Washington Street, Struthers, Ohio, October 27, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Stephen Shore
Washington Street, Struthers, Ohio, October 27, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Details
icon_fullscreen
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The streets in these color photographs appear unnervingly depopulated and deserted. By precisely controlling the coloration in his pictures, Shore combines the style of documentary photography with a personal, subjective viewpoint.

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
H.M. Elliot, Texas Hots, 2693 South Park Avenue, Lackawanna, New York, October 25, 1977, 1977
C-print
56.5 × 45.1 cm
22 1/4 × 17 3/4 inches

The dead-pan expressions of the depicted business-owners and steelworkers speaks to the sense of dispossession experienced by those left behind. Shore’s photographs allude to the fact that it was not only a material crisis people faced, but a spiritual one lasting for generations.

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
H.M. Elliot, Texas Hots, 2693 South Park Avenue, Lackawanna, New York, October 25, 1977, 1977
C-print
56.5 × 45.1 cm
22 1/4 × 17 3/4 inches

Stephen Shore
H.M. Elliot, Texas Hots, 2693 South Park Avenue, Lackawanna, New York, October 25, 1977, 1977
C-print
56.5 × 45.1 cm
22 1/4 × 17 3/4 inches

Details
icon_fullscreen
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The dead-pan expressions of the depicted business-owners and steelworkers speaks to the sense of dispossession experienced by those left behind. Shore’s photographs allude to the fact that it was not only a material crisis people faced, but a spiritual one lasting for generations.

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

 

“People are always proud of America being the creator of steel, but they don’t highlight the flipside of it or what happened once those steel mills left the country and closed.“ –LaToya Ruby Frazier

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

LaToya Ruby Frazier
U.S.S. Edgar Thomson Steel Works & Monongahela River, 2013
Gelatin silver print
120.7 × 150.8 cm
47 1/2 × 59 3/8 inches

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

LaToya Ruby Frazier
U.S.S. Edgar Thomson Steel Works & Monongahela River, 2013
Gelatin silver print
120.7 × 150.8 cm
47 1/2 × 59 3/8 inches

Details
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Working more recently, LaToya Ruby Frazier examines the political, social, and economic ramifications of the ongoing crises within the Rust Belt. Her practice is rooted in her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, once a thriving suburb of Pittsburgh, which also becomes her subject. Her photographic project, The Notion of Family (2001–2014), depicts three generations – herself, her mother, and her grandmother – against a backdrop of an all-pervading sickness, entwining economic racism and post-industrial decay.

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

LaToya Ruby Frazier
Mom after surgery, 2007
Gelatin silver print
59.4 × 49.2 cm
23 3/8 × 19 3/8 inches

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

LaToya Ruby Frazier
Mom after surgery, 2007
Gelatin silver print
59.4 × 49.2 cm
23 3/8 × 19 3/8 inches

Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 1

Working more recently, LaToya Ruby Frazier examines the political, social, and economic ramifications of the ongoing crises within the Rust Belt. Her practice is rooted in her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, once a thriving suburb of Pittsburgh, which also becomes her subject. Her photographic project, The Notion of Family (2001–2014), depicts three generations – herself, her mother, and her grandmother – against a backdrop of an all-pervading sickness, entwining economic racism and post-industrial decay.

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

By reflecting upon her own circumstances, Frazier instils the work with a sense of poignancy. To her, the camera is a means for social change, utilising and expanding upon the traditions of black-and-white documentary photography.

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Details
icon_fullscreen
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By reflecting upon her own circumstances, Frazier instils the work with a sense of poignancy. To her, the camera is a means for social change, utilising and expanding upon the traditions of black-and-white documentary photography.

“Through my work, I talk about my experience being a postmodern subject from a post-industrial place that is still in the process of becoming de-industrialized. It’s about being this de-centered self, coming from this distinctive historic American period of the steel industry.” –LaToya Ruby Frazier

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Main Street, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, October 30, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

Stephen Shore
Main Street, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, October 30, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Stephen Shore
Main Street, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, October 30, 1977, 1977
C-print
45.1 × 56.5 cm
17 3/4 × 22 1/4 inches

Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 1
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

LaToya Ruby Frazier
The Bottom (Talbot Towers, Allegheny County Housing Projects), 2009
Gelatin silver print
44.1 × 59.1 cm
17 3/8 × 23 1/4 inches

Details
Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

LaToya Ruby Frazier
The Bottom (Talbot Towers, Allegheny County Housing Projects), 2009
Gelatin silver print
44.1 × 59.1 cm
17 3/8 × 23 1/4 inches

Details
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Rust brings together three perspectives, that are joined in their desire to share an often-overlooked narrative. Capturing the industrial landscape at various phases of decay, their positions visually intertwine the complex realities of change over time.

 

Rust – Group Exhibition – Berlin

All installation views by Ingo Kniest