Joel Sternfeld began to consider violence in America when he visited the site of Jennifer Levin's death in New York's Central Park. He found it bewildering that the scene of such a horrific crime could be so beautiful (see top image). After realizing he was not alone in thinking of her death when passing the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he wondered if each person had a list of unforgettable sites identified through specific tragedies.
In 1994, Sternfeld began the series On This Site depicting his personal list of locations where infamous crimes had occurred. The viewer is asked to contemplate the scene through the combined experience of reading an eloquent statement about the history of the place while studying the image. These places hold meaning about the crimes themselves as well as extending a power over the American collective unconscious. They also question the innocence of a beautiful landscape. In viewing the entire series, we expand our 'conventional definition of violence to include the consequences of corporate irresponsibility and governmental indifference', both of which are ultimately our responsibility (Sternfeld, On This Site). In the American Prospects series, Sternfeld captured a moment in history as well as mankind's relationship to its environment. On This Site takes these themes to the next level.
As one of the pioneers of color photography, along with Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, Sternfeld's influence can be seen in the work of many contemporary photographers including Gregory Crewdson and Andreas Gursky. Since Sternfeld began experimenting with color photography in 1970, he has worked with the dye-transfer process, color coupler prints, and most recently digital printing. Due to his change of medium, Sternfeld will not complete the color coupler edition of, American Prospects. These prints can be viewed as 'period' prints from the 1990s when color coupler printing was his preferred medium.
A complete set of these works is considered rare and has never been offered before at auction.
Titles and images available on request.