Jon Lowenstein (USA, 1970) specializes in long-term, in-depth documentary explorations that confront the realms of power, poverty, racial discrimination and violence. Through the combination of photography, moving images, experiential writing and poetry, he strives for unsparing clarity by revealing the subjects of history that lack voice.
Lowenstein’s commitment to social justice through community engagement runs both deep and long. As a son of a holocaust survivor he’s particularly interested in Diaspora communities and the struggle for autonomy and personal security.
He has spent the past decade engaging his adopted community on Chicago’s South Side where he taught photography in the Chicago Public Schools, ran a community newspaper and is currently creating the South Side Imagination Center in conjunction with fellow community members.
This effort will create a unique documentary and athletic dream space out of the ruins of an abandoned building. This extensive and powerful body of work challenges accepted notions about community, poverty, segregation, and ultimately, what is the real space between hope and power.
Told by the community with fewer filters, and still with an aesthetic that’s a unique personal collaboration between himself and his community, South Side is a true integrative expression of a uniquely American time and place. This participatory media project seeks to open new dialogic and physical spaces in which to engage both the immediate community and the global community at large.
During this time Lowenstein has traveled, studied, and documented the experiences of undocumented Latin Americans living throughout the United States. Shadow Lives USA follows the migrant trail from Central America, through Mexico and throughout the United States in an effort to the real stories of the men and women who make up the largest transnational migration in world history.
This project, unique in its breadth and intimate scope forces the viewer to engage with the impact of America’s punitive immigration and economic policies on some of the United States’ most vulnerable populations.
He won the Dorothea Lange/Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Lowenstein was named a John Simon Memorial Foundation Guggenheim Fellow in Photography.
He is a 2014 TED Global Fellow and he was named a 2012 Hasselblad Master. In 2008 he was named the Joseph P. Albright Fellow by the Alicia Patterson Foundation and also won a 2007 Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography.
He also won a 2007 World Press Award and was named as a USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism Racial Justice Fellowship.
He won the 2005 NPPA New America Award, a 2004 World Press photo prize, 2003 Nikon Sabbatical Grant, the 58th National Press Photographer’s Pictures of the Year Magazine Photographer of the Year Award and Fuji Community Awareness Award.
Chicago’s South Side has experiences major changes in the past five years, including a multimillion dollar rehabilitation of the Lakefront. Unfortunately, as the city is repackaged, the poorest residents are being squeezed out of the city and forced to move to new communities and are not reaping the benefits of gentrification and urban transformation.
For the past decade, Jon has been documenting the lives and social interactions of the different communities present in the South Side.
Documenting the largest transnational migration in world history. During the past decade, millions of Latin American migrants have left their homes and risked death on the perilous journey to the United States in search of a chance to live the ‘American Dream.’ The project Shadow Lives seeks to depict humane stories that serve as an anti-venom to this type of radical, reactionary climate consistently promulgated by anti-immigration advocates.
In plain sight
More than 150 years after Lincoln’s fateful stroke of the pen, more than 150,000 men, women and children in America are still living in slavery. “In Plain Sight” is Jon Lowenstein‘s effort to tell some of their stories. Many of the people he photographed were undocumented and had been duped by their traffickers to believe that a better life lays on the other side of the border. The people in this project are the lucky ones: they escaped. Each year many are murdered by their captors. The others languish in the daily reality of modern day slavery.
Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Mike Brown. These are the names we know but there are countless others whose names go unspoken and unheard.
This is America. It’s the America that we deny, that we push to forgotten and left-behind places. The America of Stop and Frisk and Link Cards, of minimum wage jobs and foot-on-the-neck policing. We don’t like to see it, but every so often this ‘other’ America wakes up, says enough is enough and demands to be seen.