Lewis Hine – Photography for a Change
The work of American photographer and sociologist Lewis Hine (1874–1940) called for a better world. Hine was adamant in his wish that Americans become aware of the injustice in their nation’s legal system. A firm believer that every human being deserved full respect, Hine saw photography as the best tool to make this both visible and compelling. To fulfill his mission, Lewis Hine traveled 75,000 km throughout the United States for organisations such as the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), taking photographs of children at work in agriculture, in mines, industrial factories, garment factories, and on the streets. His images not only contributed to a new awareness and the first reforms against child labor. They are also some of the earliest and most important contributions to the genre of social documentary photography. Today, a hundred years later, the issues remain the same: in Europe we are experiencing a period of intensive migration that will only increase with time. For us, child labor may be a thing of the past, but only because we have outsourced the manufacturing sectors that operate with child labor to distant lands. In 1930, Hine was commissioned to document the ambitious construction of the Empire State Building in New York. Together with his son Corydon he captured more than 1,000 pictures of the dizzying work (14 builders died on the job) on the 381-metre-tall architectural icon.
The exhibition was curated by Alison Nordström.
We thank the Sulzer AG for its generous support. The project was sponsored in its entirety by the Terra Foundation for American Art.