Between 1970 and 1975 Holdt traveled criss-cross through the country and documented the social injustice he came across with a simple camera. He shows touching portraits of people from the lowest classes of society. Behind each of these photographs is a story of personal drama.
Holdt took photographs that can still be considered current, perhaps even more so because present high unemployment rates and lack of affordable health insurance and care may very well lead to a situation in which many American citizens will be forced to live their lives in abominable circumstances.
Oppressive Image of the Time
During a period of time of five years Jacob Holdt stayed with over four hundred American families, with hardly any cash at hand. He stayed with various migrant families and became acquainted with criminals in ghettos, drug addicts and prostitutes but also got to know tremendously rich families like the Rockefellers.
His parents could not believe all the stories he told them in his letters and therefore decided to send him a simple camera in order to illustrate all his adventures with pictures.
Holdt took photographs of thousands of meetings and managed to register these moments without passing any judgment whatsoever. The people portrayed do not gaze into the camera's lens and all show their urge to survive in a very personal and distinctive way.
He shows racial hatred and political tension when he becomes friends with principal figures within the Ku Klux Klan and when he is temporarily working for members of staff at the Republican presidential election campaign. As a child of his time he takes part in great anti-Vietnam demonstrations. He alsoÂ portrays the Black Power movement - and a great many of his friends that end up in prison because of violent actions.