One of Sternfeld’s most interesting project and closely related to this module course is “Stranger Passing” in which the artist photographs strange people on the street, proposing them to interrupt what they are doing and prepare themselves briefly for the photo.

This is a kind of social experiment in which photographer is interested in the behavior and reaction of people when unexpectedly photographed by an unknown photographer.

“Stranger Passing” is not a rigid typology, in the sense that there is no uniformity in the subjects (beyond that all of them are strangers that pass), neither in the backgrounds nor in the situations in which the photographs have been taken.

Individuals are also strange to the viewer, who can feel the anxiety and restlessness of addressing to totality strange people and disrupting their activity. The expression of the strangers is not exactly friendly; Serious faces, that perhaps reflect their strangeness by the situation or wonder why the photographer will want an image of them.

Individuals are surprised alone, in situations where activity seems to have stopped around them. The subject is isolated in an environment that seems to explain the situation: a young man picks up shopping carts that have been abandoned by customers in a supermarket parking, a truck driver may arrive early in the center of a small village, a farmer makes a break during the harvest, a young man waits for the tow truck  which will never come to take his car to participate in a demolition derby, etc.

In the title of the photo the author reveals the activity that the subjects were doing and the place where they were at the time they were interrupted, but does not say anything about their identities. We are only told: a young man, a man, a woman, etc. The identity of the subjects does not matter, and they have to remain strangers after this encounter. This may reinforce the idea that the photographer’s intention is that the viewer has the same experience in relation to the subjects when he contemplates this series of photographs, and he feels that he is interrupting those strangers who pass before him.

Gallery

References

http://www.luhringaugustine.com/artists/joel-sternfeld/artworks/stranger-passing?view=slider#4

 

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