Social violence is a real and present problem in the United States. Issues like police brutality, racial discrimination, and poverty still disproportionately affect minority communities. Documentary photographer Jon Lowenstein has dedicated his practice to presenting the social effects of institutional violence, engaging with the people in his photographs over the course of decades to show how these issues can impact more than just individual lives.
Through projects like Shadow Lives USA and Ferguson, Lowenstein has employed a deep sensitivity to document the struggles of the migrant crisis in the United States and the national protests combating police brutality against Black men and women. In South Side, Lowenstein embraces his adopted community of Chicago’s South Side to show the pains and joys that come with daily life in a politically neglected neighbourhood.
Lowenstein is the first documentary photographer to utilise the blockchain, furthering a new initiative of using the technology to promote social justice and equity. The blockchain has become a popular method of permanently storing information in a way that is widely accessible to the public. Projects like the DADA Collective’s ‘No Justice No Peace’ and One / Off have employed this technology to champion police accountability and increase visibility for artists from underrepresented groups. By placing his photographs on the blockchain, Lowenstein has ensured that these records of his community are permanently embedded into the fabric of a nation-wide experience.
Lowenstein’s newest project, ‘The Advocate’, takes a focused look at the activists fighting for a new America from their home in the South Side of Chicago. As Lowenstein keeps pace with Jedidiah Brown and others, this Chicago neighbourhood reveals itself as a microcosm of American social violence and racism, mirroring the damaging effect this violence has on Black families and communities across the nation.