In 2010 more Americans were living below the poverty line than at any time since 1959, when the U.S. Census Bureau began collecting this data. In 2011, Kira Pollack, Director of Photography at 'Time', commissioned Joakim Eskildsen to photograph this growing crisis affecting nearly 46.2 million Americans. Based on census data, Eskildsen, together with journalist Natasha del Toro, travelled to the places with the highest poverty rates in New York, California, Louisiana, South Dakota and Georgia over seven months to document the lives of those behind the statistics.
The people Eskildsen has portrayed — those who struggle to make ends meet, who have lost their jobs or homes and often live in unhealthy conditions—usually remain invisible in a society to which the myth of the American Dream still remains strong. Many of Eskildsen’s subjects hold there is no such dream anymore — merely the 'American Reality'.