On This Site

I have been considering how we have the choice to take life into our own hands and how some take death into their own hands too. Although sometimes it is self inflicted suicide, but there is also homocide. The series of work “On This Site” by Joel Sternfeld I feel relates to how I would like to present my work: having a photograph that does not really suggest any morbidity but having a description on the opposite page setting the context.

I got the book out and took photographs of it to show how it has been presented. The descriptions are not too extensive and detailed but it sets the scene for a viewer to understand that these sites are not just average landscapes.

The blurb reads: “In this sobering collection of photographs, Joel Sternfeld looks at fifty places where violence has stained the American landscape. Arriving long after news photographers have gone, he presents us with the landscape that is left behind, the ordinary site that remains after the tragedy. Free of sensationalism of contemporary reporting, those unadorned images, and the brief text that accompanies them, have a surprising power, allowing us to contemplate the meaning of what has taken place and what has been lost”

What I like about the series is that Sternfeld has obviously taken a lot of care taking these photographs in the sense that he return to the scene around the same time of day and year that the tragedy took place. I feel that the viewer has more of a sense of truth, although the photographs are lies for that they are not candid from the actual incident.


This reminds me of the quotation by Picasso: “Art s a lie that tells the truth”. Although what we see is not truth, it’s the message that lies beneath that does.

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