ArtInfo contributor Kat Herriman writes that Fougeron “capture[s] the striking aesthetics of these tight-knit; under-the-radar communities.”
The South Bronx Trades series, initiated in 2011 and still in progress, documents the active industries and manufacturing enterprises of Port Morris and Hunts Point, revealing to the viewer the unseen places and unheralded workers of the South Bronx. In contrast with the grim imagery often associated with the South Bronx, Fougeron’s photographs show us that industry persists and thrives in the borough. This project gains particular relevance as residents of Port Morris feel the pressure of expansion and rezoning.
Some of the industries photographed by Fougeron are over a century old, while others were created in the 21st century. They range from industrial steel production, scrap metal recycling, auto parts and scaffoldings, to artisanal family trades such as baking, printing, and hand-made bedding. The series also includes recent activities near the Hunts Point Food Market: custom-prepping fish, crafting wooden boats, the waste-management industry, and creating green rooftops. It is a celebration of the artistry and every-day heroics of intrepid people whose work entails craft and bodily labor.
Born in Paris, Martine Fougeron has lived in New York since 1996. She studied at Wellesley College, l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, and at the International Center of Photography (ICP). She is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times, and her work is held in major private and public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Bronx Museum of the Arts. Teen Tribe, her first monograph focusing on her two adolescent sons is forthcoming by Steidl. Fougeron lives and works in the South Bronx and is on the faculty of ICP.