Documentary and freelance photographer.
TED, NOOR IMAGES, AMERICAN POVERTY.ORG, THE DART SOCIETY,
Shadow Lives USA
? – present
Millions of Central American and Mexican migrants have moved to the United States during the past two decades in the largest trans-national migration in world history. It is an exodus of biblical proportions that shows no signs of abating. Though they may not realize it, these migrants enter a hostile and ominous shadow world the moment they set foot onto the treacherous path north. Their precarious state begins in Central America, continues through Mexico and does not end once inside the United States, a nation whose businesses have an insatiable appetite for migrant labor but whose laws define them as criminals. How the world’s wealthiest nation integrates the estimated 12 million undocumented Latino immigrants in their midst will define the future of this country for decades. The shadows have lengthened in recent years. Since the U.S. government’s failure in 2007 to pass comprehensive immigration reform, migrants have been subject to an unprecedented coordination of state, local and federal law enforcement agencies pushing them deeper into the darkness. Making matters worse has been the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Despite this climate of fear and a series of ever increasing obstacles, these resilient immigrants have contributed greatly to the economy and are transforming American culture in communities across the nation. In this polarized environment, migrants’ stories and voices are a critical element in the formation of a humane national immigration policy. Although many agree that the current immigration system is not working, few can find common language or understanding to forge effective solutions. Since 2000, the national conversation about immigration has moved in a more punitive direction-a movement that culminated in the recent passage of S.B. 1070 in Arizona. This state law follows in the footsteps of many punitive and increasingly draconian laws throughout the United States including the 2007 passage of H.R. 4437, or the “Sensenbrenner Bill.” This bill made it illegal to employ undocumented immigrants and criminalized employers who do so. Shadow Lives USA is a series of photographic stories woven into an ongoing essay about those who have become known as undocumented immigrants and illegals. The ultimate goal of Shadow Lives USA is to bring their stories out into the light, providing a platform for people who are consistently left out of the immigration debate. This project attempts to transcend the political bickering and to humanize, in a highly intimate fashion, the experiences and lives of the men and women who are living as undocumented residents in what is still the wealthiest nation on earth. The work also seeks to transcend borders in an effort humanize the political, cultural and economic impact on individuals caught up in this complex social space. Ironically, undocumented people are allowed to own homes, maintain bank accounts, pay taxes and at the same time constantly fear the daily threat of forced removal by law enforcement officials. Increasingly, undocumented people all over the United States are being arrested, harassed, legislated against and attacked as a systematic right wing, anti-immigrant movement seeks their wholesale removal from the United States. How American citizens justify the systematic marginalization of more than 12 million people living in their midst, is one of the most pressing questions of our time. Shadow Lives USA highlights the blatant and pervasive human rights violations that are consistently perpetrated against a people simply because they do not have ‘legal’ status. Collectively, this body of work questions, at the most basic level, what rights we have as human beings. This issue has consumed me since 1993, when I taught English as a Second Language to Mexican migrants on Chicago’s West Side. For more than a decade I have traveled, studied, and documented the experiences of undocumented Latin Americans living throughout the United States. This has led me to follow the migrant trail from Central America, through Mexico and throughout the United States in an effort to document the real stories of the men and women who make up this epic migration. Through these experiences and my ability to speak fluent Spanish I have developed connections with a broad network of immigrants and activists. To complete the project I will complete 6 individual photo-stories and undertake an ambitious but achievable distribution plan to be completed over the next year and a half.
Project Website »
JON LOWENSTEIN – DOCUMENTARIAN Jon Lowenstein has been a professional photographer for more than ten years. He specializes in long-term, in-depth projects that confront the realms of power, poverty, and violence. As a documentary photographer, he strives for unsparing clarity, and believes images make a critical contribution by revealing the subjects of history that lack voice. At the core of the work, and by his own admission, is a lighted love of people. An equally intractable believer in the art, he asks those who consider photography unessential to picture a world with no pictures. For more than a decade Jon 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. He has also spent the past decade documenting and working with folks in his community on the South Side of Chicago. This project asks important questions like what does South Side mean? Told by the community with fewer filters, more raw, real, honest and still with an aesthetic that’s a personal collaboration between himself and the community where he lives and works South Side becomes a true integrative expression of a uniquely American time and place. This participatory media project seeks to open a new dialogic space in a place that Jon has been documenting for more than a decade. Lowenstein was recently named a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. He is also currently a 2011 TED Global Fellow and was just 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 58th National Press Photographer’s Pictures of the Year Magazine Photographer of the Year Award and Fuji Community Awareness Award. His international assignments include covering elections in Afghanistan to the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to social violence in Guatemala. Most recently, he began a project about the impact of cerebral Malaria in Children in Uganda. He is member and owner of the NOOR Images cooperative and photo agency. Lowenstein’s work can be seen at www.jonlowenstein.com.
I don't have one favorite meal, although I love eating. There are so many amazing foods in this world and I want to try them all.
A funny story about me:
I think one of the funnier and crazier moments I've had was last year when I was in Kampala, Uganda with TED Fellow Sanga Moses. He took a left turn and saw passed a motorcycle cop and then we realized we were going into two lanes of ongoing traffic. His little car was racing headlong into the cars and we both just kept our cool as cars avoided us at breakneck speed. Finally, he drove onto the sidewalk and we neared the end of the mile long road, both happy to still be alive. Ahhh TED...