Dan Epstein’s Defenders employs multimedia installation to paint a living ethnographic portrait of Canadian and American criminal defence lawyers in three cities: Detroit, New York, and Toronto. The project considers the personal experience of criminal justice by focusing on the individuals who defend the accused.
After more than a year of conducting interviews with his subjects, Epstein has assembled a database of recorded video and still portraiture that depict lawyers in their work spaces. The stories that inform this work are diverse and engaging, ranging from firm indictments of the criminal justice system to staunch defences of a lawyer’s own work, and sad stories of justice gone sour.
While Defenders hopes to address larger, systemic questions about criminal justice in the 21st century, it does so by offering an intimate window into the personalities and quirks of the people it portrays. As a portrait of a profession, the project is an informative, powerful, and poetic look at an under-examined aspect of the complex world of crime.