The South Bronx is a world unto itself, a place unlike anywhere else in the world. It has fought its way back from near decimation at the hands of the U.S. government and its racist policy of “benign neglect,” proving that once again that the community holds together when the center falls apart. The South Bronx is not only a community it is the vital heart of active industries and manufacturing enterprises of the Port Morris and Hunts Point neighborhoods as well, showing that small, family-based businesses are alive and thriving in this part of the city.
Photographer Martine Fougeron moved to the South Bronx in 2009. “I’m adventurous,” she reveals. “I needed space near the water. We have with fresh air and a new view of Manhattan. It’s kind of raw, but there are beautiful nineteenth-century buildings and the sky can be seen in 360 degrees. It’s a good, quiet neighborhood.”
As a resident, Fougeron quickly discovered the local industries, some dating back over a century, others recently established. From industrial steel production, scrap metal recycling, auto parts and scaffoldings, to artisanal family trades such as baking, printing, and hand-made bedding, what these trades all have in common is their mastery of the craft itself. In 2011, she began to create The South Bronx Trades, a photographic series which is still in progress today. Here, Fougeron witness to the people who make the Bronx one of the strongest places on earth. For all the battles its citizens have fought, a new one looms on the horizon, one potentially more devastating than what has come before—if such a thing were possible.
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Photo: Scrap Metal No. 1: Sal’s, 2013. Digital C-print. 20 x 30 inches. ©Martine Fougeron