Slide installation consisting of 50 images, duration 20 mins, looped, 2012.
Commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum, exhibited at the Andy Warhol Museum as part of the exhibition 'Factory Direct'.
'Braddock/Sewickley' is a series of fifty images which were initially exhibited at the Andy Warhol Museum as a slide installation. The work examines the legacy of the steel industry in Pittsburgh, focusing upon the impact it has had in forming the contrasting culture and lifestyles of two of its boroughs, Braddock and Sewickley.
The extraordinary power of the steel industry to shape the life of its communities and the people in them remains extremely palpable in Pittsburgh. Why are we unable to create an environment which uniformly benefits from the steel industry? Why has it always been impossible for us to create a wholly positive, utopian vision of a society centred upon steel production, as depicted in the murals of John White Alexander in the Carnegie Museum? These are two of the questions which the slideshow poses.
Braddock is home to the Edgar Thomson Steel Works, the first steel mill in America to use the Bessemer process, which now operates as a part of the United States Steel Corporation. Braddock lost its importance with the collapse of the steel industry in the US in the 1970s and 1980s. This coincided with the crack cocaine epidemic of the early 1980s, and the combination of the two woes nearly destroyed the community. In 1988, Braddock was designated a financially distressed municipality. However, in recent years new residents from the artistic, urbanist, and creative communities have gradually started to move to the area.
By contrast, much of the wealth generated by the steel industry is still very evident in Sewickley, visible in the glorious houses found in the Heights, in the village shops, and the local country clubs. While a few homes were being built in the late 1890's, Sewickley really took off after 1902 when the Allegheny Country Club relocated there, accelerating the settlement of the area as a haven for wealthy Pittsburgh residents. These social clubs used to be, and still are, an important connection in these circles.
Echoing the visual style of iconic photographers of the 1960s, 1970's and 80s who also looked at an America undergoing recession, Neville's slideshow of new images of the city explore themes of race, religion, education, leisure, tradition, class and ritual. Collectively the slide-projected photographs suggest that the same economic and social forces present forty years ago are still strongly at play now.
'The Port Glasgow Book Project', 'Deeds Not Words', and 'Braddock/Sewickley' make up a trilogy of works which explore notions of post-industrial identity in working class communities.