The American photographer, celebrated for his ground-breaking colour work, gives an insight into his classic work, and why he believes “a. This is the definitive edition of Joel Sternfeld’s seminal American Prospects made from new printing plates and technology that did not exist at the time of the. It is about a country convinced of its independence and freedom, but that when photographed appears chained to a set of principles and.

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It is an unspeakable force, lurking invisibly, powerful, cultural, American. It is about a country convinced of its independence and freedom, but that when photographed appears chained to a set of principles and dreams powerfully manifested in its architecture and in the lives its people have chosen to lead.

There is a lonely basketball jol in the desert, framed by gorgeous cliffs, a wet suburb under brooding skies, a pool littered with identical round floating objects beside which a man stands, his back to the camera, looking americwn over the desert beyond his house. There is a moose knee-deep in a marsh next to a virgin pine forest being photographed and admired by a dozen brightly dressed tourists, a pale woman posing prpspects front of a trailer park with scrub-brush in the background.

There are rocket ships at noon surrounded by acres of sand, and the wreckage left by disasters. There is a sand box overrun with miniature earth movers in the undeveloped land behind a subdivision, a collapsed elephant on a rural road surrounded by officials.

There is a fireman buying bright orange pumpkins while flames of the same hue consume a house in the background.

The subjects of these pictures zternfeld varied but the hand of the photographer persists throughout, providing a consistent perspective so that the book never once feels haphazard. That perspective manages to document the weird mixture of tragic boredom, achievement and hope that composes the contemporary American experience.


Joel Sternfeld – ‘American Prospects’ (2012)

The pictures are shot with a sort of attached indifference, meaning that the subjects, composition, and lighting are all carefully chosen, but a documentary quality establishes distance between viewer and subject. This space allows a feeling of wrongness to come through, one that seems to permeate these photographs, not by direct instigation but through an implicit voyeurism. The wrongness is as apparent as its source is difficult to identify, so that looking at these pictures is similar to watching a David Lynch film.

Underneath what the camera is showing you, not to the left or right, but beneath the American lives that you see, there is something sinister at work. This struggle is most apparent in the suburbs which are well represented in this book where a desire for the freedom of land and independence produces a crushing uniformity.

That need for freedom, and the quest to realize it, is represented too by nature, which, in these photographs, humans are constantly invading and destroying, either in person while trying to commune, or with machines and ambition.

A striking number of disasters populate the pages of American Prospectsand several of them beset respectable subdivisions. Those photographs in particular seem to dramatize the impossibility of fulfillment, of happiness, by showing the collapse of an architecture that attempts to actualize those dreams.

American Prospects – Joel Sternfeld – Steidl Verlag

In Prospectsorder achieves temporary success in the suburbs but the cost is boredom and underlying pathology. When disaster strikes pathology drives it, rendering suburban order irrelevant.

The most distinct feeling in American Prospects may be expanse. The United States is an enormous country loaded with promise and failure, and this book documents dreams, landscapes, and destinations with startling clarity. The strongest impression is of a country possessed of incredible wealth sternfekd technical proficiency that, although produced by organized ambition, is un- or mis- directed and seems to magnify an essential lostness that is important to the Americans in this book.


American Prospects is beautiful and uncomfortable and completely worthwhile.

Review: American Prospects by Joel Sternfeld (2012 Version)

A tour de force of American photographs, it follows in the tradition of Robert Frank and Stephen Shore by radically re-imagining the contemporary American scene. Its author deserves every bit as much respect. sfernfeld

He currently resides in Mexico City, writes fiction and non-fiction, and teaches Chemistry and Literature. He can be contacted here: Glen Canyon Dam, Page, Arizona, Canyon Country, California, June, The subjects of these pictures are varied but the hand of the photographer persists throughout, providing a consistent perspective so that the book never once feels haphazard. Connect to the ASX world! Like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and Instagram. An Interview with Bruce Jackson: Dash Snow amfrican was a Rising Star Ed van der Elsken – “Love on the Left Bank” In the Face of All Odds: Stephen Gill – “Best Before End” Retrofitting A Hamburg Nostalgia.

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