Joni Sternbach - The Passengers: A VIRTUAL EXHIBITION

4 March - 11 April 2021

Black Box Projects is delighted to present The Passengers, an exhibition of early work by Joni Sternbach shot on a Leica camera in the New York subway 1975-1980.  


Known internationally for her decade-long study of surfers and surf culture rendered in the wet-plate collodion tintype process, Joni Sternbach began her photographic career capturing anonymous figures in the New York streets and subway in the 1970s.


In a time when street photography immortalised the nameless individuals defining modern cities from an observational and often voyeuristic standpoint, Sternbach establishes herself as as innately humanist in The Passengers series, adeptly approaching anonymous subjects with sensitivity and empathy. 


The photographs of The Passengers are raw - often blurred and grainy. They capture the grit of 1970's New York, as well as the tenderness of human interaction. Sternbach is an intimate observer capturing  the beauty of the mundane within these anonymous portraits, the quiet moments observed deep underground amidst the noise, crowds and chaos of the New York City subway. The consideration shown by Joni Sternbach to the individuals is captured in the stolen portraits of The Passengers and reveals her skill and sensitivity as an artist, a talent that is honed and perfected in her later tintype portraits. 


The Passengers is a collection of silver gelatin prints from 1975-1980 from the artist's archive, available in both vintage and modern limited edition prints printed from the original negatives. 


Sternbach's work is held in many international and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery in London, Joslyn Museum, MOCA Jacksonville, Nelson Atkins Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She is the recipient of several grants including NYFA and CAPS and Santo Foundation. Sternbach recently released the self-published monograph Surfboard, which will be in exhibition with Black Box Projects June 2021 in Cromwell Place. 


Sternbach received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts and a MA from New York University and International Center of Photography in 1987, where she taught for over a decade. She is an advisory board member and founding faculty at Penumbra Foundation in NYC, where she teaches wet plate collodion. Joni Sternbach lives and works in New York City. 


View Exhibition Here