Janet Sternburg's New Monograph I've Been Walking Is Her Ode To 2020 Los Angeles | Out October 21st
I’ve Been Walking, the new monograph from writer and photographer Janet Sternburg, captures the soul of Los Angeles as it slowed to a stop. When the streets emptied in Spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sternburg donned a mask and gloves and ventured out to explore the streets of Los Angeles, taking photographs to capture her journey through the altered landscape. “For a while I walked through Los Angeles’ empty streets, seeing mostly what was desolate,” she writes. “Then I started to see a poetry that I hadn’t always seen in more populated times.” In the following months, signs and traces of life appeared throughout an urban environment that had once seemed frozen in time.
I’ve Been Walking is due out October 21st and will be available in bookstores across the US.
I’ve Been Walking applies Sternburg’s attention to perception, memory, and layered experience to the unprecedented pandemic year. In one photograph entitled Lace flag, storm clouds swell behind a bent and cracked parking sign. In Sunrise gutter, glittering light reflects from a thin stream of water in the concrete. Sternburg’s ability to notice and communicate these nuances of sensation presents her viewers with an opportunity for deep reflection on the meaning and metaphor of each image.
Although many of its photographs have no human figures, I’ve Been Walking expresses profound humanity, gesturing toward the social and personal resonances of the 2020 shutdown. “I walked photographing what I’ve come to think of as a kind of fullness— an enlargement of the senses that can be found in the midst of emptiness,” Sternburg says. “I do not mean to turn the griefs and losses caused by COVID-19 into artistic gain. I do mean that we are enlarged when we become part of the landscape of all of us.”
Sternburg is a master of many mediums. She has produced and directed award-winning films such as El Taetro Campesino and Virginia Woolf: The Moment Whole; written two memoirs interweaving science and history; and edited both volumes of the acclaimed anthology The Writer On Her Work, a collection of essays by accomplished female writers. Of her book Phantom Limb, Bill Moyers writes “Janet Sternburg gas found the perfect metaphor for the tragedy of pain and loss, the ultimate inevitabilities of life.”
About Janet Sternburg
Janet was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She is an American writer of essays, poetry, and memoir, as well as a fine art photographer. Sternburg is the editor of The Writer On Her Work, the first book of commissioned essays on what it means to be a contemporary woman who writes. It has been continuously in print since 1980, and a twentieth anniversary edition was published by W.W. Norton in 2000. Sternburg lives in Los Angeles and San Miguel de Allende. Mexico. She is married to former CalArts president Steven Lavine.