Joni Sternbach: SURFBOARD

1 - 13 June 2021

Black Box Projects is delighted to present its first solo exhibition of photographs by Joni Sternbach in the United Kingdom, taken from her most recent series SURFBOARD.


Over the last twenty years, Sternbach has worked with large format cameras and early photographic processes to explore how we observe, relate to and interact with the earth's oceans. For her current exhibition she digs deeper, concentrating on the vessel designed for ocean voyage - the surfboard. Surfboards, through Sternbach's careful eye, are presented as remarkable examples of functional design and the SURFBOARD series tells a compelling story of a critical American art form. While surf pictures are traditionally studies of motion, by turning her camera away from the ocean and instead focusing on the utilitarian tools of the surfer, we discover an ethnographic study in stillness, portraits captured in a silvery and antiqued timelessness. 


SURFBOARD is a celebration and impassioned study of some of the most important designs in surf history. These sculptural totems reflect culture and class, echoing the politics of their time. Sternbach uncovers layers of meaning, historical and cultural clashes, as well as celebrates the visual pleasure of the surfboard and its origins. Capturing the spirit of these totemic boards, Sternbach suggests a modernist sculptural presence in her surfboard portraits. Through this new body of work, Sternbach deftly draws connections between materials, objects and human experience. 


SURFBOARD is presented as limited-edition silver-gelatin photographs from ultra large-format wet collodion glass negatives as well as large-scale archival pigment prints. For this exhibition we will also have a limited selection of unique tintype photographs from Sternbach's acclaimed series Surfland. The exhibition is accompanied by a limited-edition artist's monograph of the same title, available exclusively through Black Box Projects.