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Years before Jon Lowenstein moved to South Shore in 2005, the award-winning photojournalist started what turned out to be a continuous project of documenting the neighborhood and those around it. Using large-format Polaroid film exclusively, he has captured thousands of images of everyday life—graduations, boxing matches, the annual Bud Billiken Parade—and scenes of tragedy stemming from gun violence in his adopted community.
Lowenstein says his goal is to penetrate the “crashing psychological experience” of living in a place where street shootings have become common: “Outsiders see the violence, but they don’t understand that there are all these other forces at work. The postindustrial meltdown, the tearing down of the housing projects, the legacy of the crack wars, the schools being systematically closed.”
The indelible photographs shown here encompass key moments in which Lowenstein found himself at the scene of a crime or entangled in its aftermath. Captions that appear in quotes are in the photographer’s own words.