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A photobook about being homeless in America
A photobook about being homeless in America
230 backers pledged $20,688 to help bring this project to life.

About

$20,688

230

THE BOOK 

The Unwanted photobook will be both beautiful and unnerving, bringing the viewer into the sad and often maddening experience of being homeless in the streets of America.

An unfiltered portrayal of life at the very bottom in America. Comprised of photographs taken in homeless communities in 4 different parts of the country: Syracuse NY, Gallup NM, Las Vegas NV and New Orleans LA.  

After 4 years of photographing I have a very large number of images to work with and have decided that the people I photographed and this important topic deserve a large and beautifully produced book to contrast the harsh reality of homelessness in America. 

The book will be 30cm x 30cm (11.8 x 11.8 inches) with about 120 color images, 218 pages. I am honored to say that Gerry Badger, acclaimed author on photography, will be writing the text for the book.

New Stretch Goal to make The Unwanted book a hardcover if we can make it past $18000. This stretch goal is an extra goal above and beyond the goal of $16,000 that we need to get the project funded. If we don't get all the way to $18,000 but reach our minimum goal of $16,000 the book will still be published, just as a softcover book.

The book is to be printed in Denmark at Rosendahls Bogtrykkeri where I had my first book, The Canaries, printed in 2013. They have the best printing press in the country, and have recently upgraded their machines so the quality should be even higher than my last printing.

After many months of tedious work scanning negatives, working picture files, editing pictures and working on sequencing and layout for the book, things are coming together and I feel confident that this is going to be an unforgettable and powerful book. It is my plan to print the book this June and have the book ready to ship in September. 

Printing a high quality photobook is a costly endeavor but it is important for me to get this important body of work out into the world. I believe that the photobook is the best way to do this. It is my goal to produce a book that will not only serve as a historical and social document, but as a work of art. 

The Unwanted project was completed with the support of a Guggenheim Fellowship.


For backers of The Unwanted book living in the US and Denmark, the $65 reward includes free shipping. Anyone pledging from any other country in the world should select the $85 reward which includes free shipping worldwide.

Reine & Lost, best friends. Lost died a few months after this picture was taken. Syracuse, New York 2014
Reine & Lost, best friends. Lost died a few months after this picture was taken. Syracuse, New York 2014

THE PROJECT

I first meet Reine and Lost in 2014, two homeless men living under a highway in Syracuse, NY where winters get brutally cold. They had survived 3 winters huddled together up high on a small concrete ledge right under the highway overpass where icy wind would blow relentlessly and the noise from traffic overhead was numbingly loud. My meeting with Reine and Lost drew me in to what became a 4 year long photo project about homelessness in America.   

Cindy with her wig. Las Vegas, Nevada 2016
Cindy with her wig. Las Vegas, Nevada 2016

I connected deeply with Cindy in Vegas, a woman close to me in age, who had been through a hellish ride, ending up on the street alone, abused and hooked on drugs. People in the homeless community told me that she had been healthy, beautiful and completely sane when she was first dropped off at the shelter a few years earlier after a short prison sentence. "This is what the streets can do to you", they said. 

Terry and his brother waiting in line for the soup kitchen. Homeless for 4 years after being laid off. Las Vegas, Nevada 2016
Terry and his brother waiting in line for the soup kitchen. Homeless for 4 years after being laid off. Las Vegas, Nevada 2016

Growing up nurtured by the humanitarian values of Denmark’s social democracy I have long been concerned about the social cost of the American capitalist system valuing profit over human welfare. Homelessness to me represents one very tangible consequence of the growing divide between the rich and poor. In 2003, I developed severe Environmental Illness forcing me to abandon urban life for a tent in the woods for several years. This solidified my empathy with others forced from their homes, and continues to be an unexpected well of understanding.

Jacob’s cardboard shelter. ‘I just became homeless a few weeks ago. I used to drive through here and see the homeless but like most I turned a blind eye never thinking that could be me, and here I am.’ Las Vegas, Nevada 2016
Jacob’s cardboard shelter. ‘I just became homeless a few weeks ago. I used to drive through here and see the homeless but like most I turned a blind eye never thinking that could be me, and here I am.’ Las Vegas, Nevada 2016

My tight funding for Las Vegas resulted in living out of my car without access to showers or laundry. My only companions for weeks on end were the homeless people I encountered. Slowly I felt myself dissolving, held together only by a few daily rituals. I observed many strange rituals among my homeless friends and started to understand their importance for creating a safe private space in public. Every morning, Bobby dragged his blanket along the concrete walkway of the mall where he lived, untangling energy fields. Some mornings were harder and he would cut into the blanket with a razor, trying to free himself from the many cables that bored through him as he slept. Then one morning Bobby looked into my car which was gutted down to the metal frame, slept in, and a mess. He turned to me surprised, and said, “You are just like me.”

Bobby dragging his blanket to untangle the energy fields. Homeless for 13 years. Las Vegas, Nevada 2016
Bobby dragging his blanket to untangle the energy fields. Homeless for 13 years. Las Vegas, Nevada 2016

For me photography is the ritual that helps me make sense of my experience of being human.  

Thank you for your help in making this book possible.

Biography

Thilde Jensen was born in Denmark and moved to New York City in 1997. Six years later her life and career as a documentary and editorial photographer was cut short by a sudden development of severe Environmental Illness. The struggle to survive took Jensen into a hyper-sensitive world that she never knew existed, to capture the harsh realities of those afflicted like her.

Thilde Jensen's first monograph The Canaries about Environmental Illness was self published in 2013 and has since received international acclaim. The Canaries book has made it into the collections at MoMA and SFMOMA.

Her work has been featured in The New York Times, FT Magazine (UK), Il manifesto (Italy), De Standaard (Belgium), Esquire Russia, Wired.com, Vision Magazine (China), Business Insider, Slate.com and selected for Slate.com's Best Photography Shows of 2012. 

Thilde Jensen is a NYFA Fellowship and Light Work Grant recipient. In 2017 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to complete photographing for The Unwanted project. 

Risks and challenges

The risks and challenges when publishing a photobook include the possibility of delay, but I already have the successful experience of printing my first book The Canaries so I know what is involved. If this campaign is successful, I will do everything possible to make sure the book is published by September 2019.

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  1. Select this reward

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    Your name in the book

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    A signed 5 x 7 inch postcard

    Receive a signed 5 x 7 inch postcard from The Unwanted series. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.

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    A signed copy of The Unwanted book

    Receive a first edition copy of The Unwanted book. The book will be personally signed and your name will be printed in the acknowledgments in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    A signed copy of The Unwanted book

    Receive a first edition copy of The Unwanted book. The book will be personally signed and your name will be printed in the acknowledgements in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    The Unwanted book & The Canaries book

    Receive a double book package of Thilde Jensen's books: A signed limited edition of The Unwanted book. A signed limited edition copy of The Canaries book. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    The Unwanted book & The Canaries book

    Receive a double book package of Thilde Jensen's books: A signed limited edition of The Unwanted book. A signed limited edition copy of The Canaries book. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    8.5 x 11 inch print & The Unwanted book

    Receive a signed 8.5 x 11 inch archival print of your choice from The Unwanted series & A first edition signed copy of The Unwanted book. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    11 x 17 inch print & The Unwanted book

    Receive a signed 11 x 17 inch archival print of your choice from The Unwanted series. The first edition signed copy of The Unwanted book. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    17 x 22 inch print & The Unwanted book

    Receive a signed 17 x 22 inch archival print of choice from The Unwanted series. A first edition signed copy of The Unwanted book. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    20 x 30 inch print & Both books

    Receive a signed 20 x 30 inch archival print of your choice from The Unwanted series. A first edition signed copy of both of Thilde Jensen's books: The Unwanted book & The Canaries book. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    30 x 44 inch print & Both books

    Receive a signed 30 x 44 inch limited-edition archival print of your choice from The Unwanted series. A first edition signed copy of both of Thilde Jensen's books: The Unwanted book & The Canaries book. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    Hand printed and bound Artist Book

    Receive a rare and collectible artist book of The Unwanted. Printed by hand by the artist Thilde Jensen on Red River's premium matte double-sided paper. The book will be hand bound and placed in a uniquely designed box (At most 3 copies of this artist book will ever be made). The press printed first edition signed copy of The Unwanted book. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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    Print portfolio & Both books

    Receive a unique portfolio of 15 signed 17 x 22 inch archival prints of your choice from The Unwanted series. A first edition signed copy of both of Thilde Jensen's books: The Unwanted book & The Canaries book. Your name in the back of the book. My gratitude and updates on the project.
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Funding period

- (30 days)