Jon Lowenstein Wins 2014 Lange-Taylor Prize for “South Side”

A young man floats in the air while jumping on a trampoline at a summer block club party, Auburn-Gresham, 2009. Photograph from "South Side" by Jon Lowenstein, winner of the 2014 Lange-Taylor Prize.

A young man floats in the air while jumping on a trampoline at a summer block club party, Auburn-Gresham, 2009. Photograph from “South Side” by Jon Lowenstein.

The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University has awarded the twenty-second Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize to American photographer, filmmaker, and writer Jon Lowenstein for South Side, his testimony to the Chicago neighborhood where he has lived and worked for over a decade. The $10,000 award is given to encourage documentary work in the tradition of acclaimed photographer Dorothea Lange and writer and social scientist Paul Taylor, and supports documentary artists—working alone or in teams—whose extended fieldwork projects rely on the interplay of words and images.

With his South Side project, which combines Lowenstein’s photographs, moving images [see “A Violent Thread”], personal narrative writing and poetry, oral histories, and found ephemera, Lowenstein examines “the legacy of segregation, the impact of vast wealth inequality, and how de-industrialization and globalization play out on the ground in Chicago. . . . I have witnessed and documented the systematic and ongoing de-construction and undermining of communities and the ensuing fight to maintain a semblance of order while those neighborhoods crumble in front of our eyes.” As a white man in a predominantly black neighborhood whose presence and identity is often questioned, he says, Lowenstein has also been trying to find his own place in the story of a community that “so many people ‘like me’ had long since abandoned . . . . It’s one thing to work in the area and return to a more wealthy area at night. It’s another thing to ‘buy’ into the community.”

With the award, Lowenstein will continue his fieldwork, which includes geo-tagging and mapping his photographs with Instagram (follow him @jonlowenstein), and plans to publish a book of his South Side images and writing, as well as continue to make short experimental films, in hopes of “weaving together the disparate strands” of the project to “shed light on where we are at not only in Chicago but in the United States at this vital moment in our nation’s history.”

Click here for more information on South Side, including a slideshow of images, and Lowenstein, a member and owner of NOOR Images whose work has been seen in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Photo District News, The Daily Beast, and NBC News, among others.

The members of the Lange-Taylor Prize Committee also awarded a Special Recognition to Dragana Jurisic, a photographer and researcher born in the former Yugoslavia and now based in Dublin, Ireland, for her project “YU: The Lost Country,” in which she retraces as closely as possible Rebecca West’s journey across Yugoslavia in the late 1930s, recounted in West’s Black Lamb Grey Falcon (1941). With her own annotations in a first-edition copy of Black Lamb and her own photographs, Jurisic creates a new work to relive her own “experience of Yugoslavia and re-examine conflicting emotions and memories of the country that ‘was.’”

Click here for more information on the other finalists, both solo artists and teams, for the 2014 Lange-Taylor Prize.

Click here for more information about the Lange-Taylor Prize, and 2015 guidelines. Submissions will be accepted from February 1–May 7, 2015. 


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