Between 1993 and 1996, Joel Sternfeld photographed 50 infamous crime sites around the US. "On This Site", contains images of these unsettlingly normal places, ordinary landscapes left behind after tragedies, their hidden stories disturbingly invisible. Each photograph is accompanied by a text describing the crime that took place at the location.
This is the first Steidl edition of "On This Site", originally published in 1996 to great acclaim.
“I went to Central Park to find the place behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art where Jennifer Levin had been killed. It was bewildering to find a scene so beautiful … to see the same sunlight pour down indifferently on the earth. As Inshowed the photograph of this site to friends, I realized that I was not alone in thinking of her when walking by the Met.
It occurred to me that I held something within: a list of places that I cannot forget because of the tragedies that identify them, and I began to wonder if each of us has such a list. I set out to photograph sites that were marked during my lifetime. Yet, there was something else that drew me to this work. I think of it as the question of knowability.
Experience has taught me again and again that you can never know what lies beneath a surface or behind a façade. Our sense of place, our understanding of photographs of the landscape is inevitably limited and fraught with misreading.” Joel Sternfeld