Published by Hatje Cantz. Edited by Chloé Zanni. Text by Jon Lowenstein.
For two decades, American documentary photographer Jon Lowenstein (born 1970) endeavored to capture his own neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side through still and moving images. Over the course of those 20 years, Lowenstein, his camera and his fellow Chicagoans have born witness to a number of major economic and sociopolitical moments: over 100,000 people were displaced as public housing projects were demolished nationwide; the 2008 financial crisis gutted the US economy; Barack Obama was sworn in as the first Black president of the United States. The reverberations of these events are still felt throughout the city and specifically its South Side, where state-sanctioned injustice is present in its very infrastructure, from segregation to gentrification.
Lowenstein depicts the daily lives of South Side residents in a manner that is neither sensationalized nor condescending. Instead, his honest black-and-white photographs transcend newspaper headlines and statistical scare tactics to provide real insight into the simple joys and typical frustrations of Lowenstein’s neighbors. Supplemented by poetry, oral histories and personal texts, South Side is a collaborative effort between Lowenstein and his community to represent the far-reaching effects of national policy on the quality of life for those in vulnerable urban areas.