top of page

the BLOC

Read more

Around The BLOC is a photography project made by young boxers from the West Side of Chicago. The book opens with photographer Jacob Pesci documenting a team of young fighters at The BLOC, a nonprofit boxing gym located in West Humboldt Park. The following chapters of the book project are the culmination of a 10-month photography workshop made in collaboration with the boxers of The BLOC. Looking at the life-altering events of 2020, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic and Civil Unrest triggered by the murder of George Floyd, the students explored their current world, community, and the impact of their unique voice and perspective. Fighters anchored their image-making with individual writings based on their life experience as a young person coming of age in today’s everchanging social atmosphere. ​ "I feel so significant right now" Jalen enthusiastically repeated as he looked at his images hanging on the walls of The Hokin Gallery in downtown Chicago; his photographs on display in collaboration with the Albert P Weismann Award Show. Jalen and the other 25 participants of this project live approximately 7.5 miles west of Downtown Chicago, in neighborhoods such as Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, Lawndale, and Austin; where they all attend the after-school boxing program, The BLOC. These west side neighborhoods are a far cry from the glitz and glam of Chicago's downtown, often heavily segregated, underfunded, reeling from decades of drug, gun, and gang violence that has shattered the communities resources; but the light has not left the spirit of the residents despite the odds. Fighters at The BLOC eagerly rise to any challenge they are faced with and creatively work to find solutions, digging deep within themselves to push through adversity; their approach to photography was nothing different. We worked alongside the young people attending the program, providing transportation to the gym, assisting with homework and academic plans, checking in with their life circumstances, and providing social and emotional mentoring; while simultaneously building a classroom structure to support their development as photographers and visual storytellers. The culminating book and exhibition was an affirmation of identity, in representation, in agency; here on these walls and in these pages; stories otherwise overlooked or disregarded shout "I am significant" ​

The Making Of: