The next installment of In Sight’s series “PHOTOGRAPHERS edit PHOTOGRAPHERS” pairs NOOR photographers Jon Lowenstein and Sebastian Liste. In this installment, American photographer Lowenstein has made selections from Spanish photographer Liste’s body of work from South America. Here’s what Lowenstein wrote about his colleague’s work. It has been lightly edited for clarity:
Latin America as a region is one of the most beautiful and fascinating places on Earth. It is also as a region one of the most violent. The local population from Brazil to Mexico lives with a level of state-sponsored and social violence that reaches absurd levels. It is this violence that Sebastian Liste has chosen to document. Not the moment of impact, but the aftermath – how it tears apart communities and destroys lives. How the violence and poverty of a region transcends borders and seeps into everyday life, and slowly over years and years, tears apart the very fabric that makes life meaningful. As one young gang member recently told me in Chicago, “Once someone kills somebody who is very close to you it’s impossible to forgive.” They are the enemy, yet no one should have to live afraid of their very neighbors, afraid of the police, afraid of going out in the daytime for fear of assaults, robberies, or being extorted. It is this violence, the fear, and the subsequent pain that Liste shows so eloquently and intimately. He goes where few people go unless they live there to tell these intimate stories of human despair, loss and, ultimately, resilience.
Liste’s work recalls a particularly harrowing scene I witnessed in Guatemala City a few years back. A father had bought his 20-something son a motorcycle with his earnings from having worked as an undocumented immigrant in the United States. They went for a celebratory ride one Sunday evening – the end of a long workweek. In a case of mistaken identity, the two were shot through the chest by a Mara gang member. The father, riding tandem in back had saved the son as the bullet entered him first. Outside the hospital, the younger sister was crying inconsolably. Various family members tried to comfort her but ultimately she remained alone, wailing to the night, holding onto the fence, and waiting. The brother would survive, but the violence had taken this young girl’s father. Liste finds a way to bring us to these types of situations and maintain his humanity. It is strong, necessary and meaningful work.
More In Sight:
In Sight is The Washington Post photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.