Events | Reading and Conversation: I've been Walking

Villa Aurora | December 6, 2021 | 7:30 PM (PST)

Author and photographer Janet Sternburg will present her newest publication I’ve Been Walking (Distanz 2021), a collection of photographs taken as she walked through Los Angeles in 2020, when the city was on lockdown. Sternburg donned a mask and gloves and ventured out to explore the city streets, 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," Sternburg 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 applies Sternburg’s attention to perception, memory, and layered experience to the unprecedented pandemic year. 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." Janet Sternberg will be in conversation with Boris Dralyuk, editor-chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books.



Janet Sternburg is a fine art photographer, a writer of literary books, a maker of theatre and films, and an educator. Since 1998 when she began taking photographs, her work has appeared in Aperture (2002), followed by The Utne Reader ("A New Lens," 2003), which selected her as one among forty international artists and writers who "with depth, resonance, ideas and insights, challenge us to live more fully,". A 2016-17 monograph of her photographs, Overspilling World: The Photographs of Janet Sternburg, was published by Distanz Verlag (Berlin) with a Foreword by Wim Wenders in which he writes, "Photographers don’t have eyes in the back of their heads. Janet Sternburg does." Her literary books include the two volumes of The Writer on Her Work, (W. W. Norton, 1981 and 1991). Other critically praised books followed, among them Phantom Limb (University of Nebraska American Lives Series, 2002) about which Bill Moyers has written "Janet Sternburg has found the perfect metaphor for the ultimate inevitabilities of life." This hybrid of personal story, essay, and history was followed by White Matter (Hawthorne Books, 2016); in a review published in Forbes, Sternburg is described as "using all the skills at her disposal, the sensitivity, precision and lyricism of a poet, the hard edges of a photographer, the intelligence and scholarship of an academic, to plumb the many facets of this story." Her play, The Fifth String (2011-2014) about pre– and post–Expulsion cultures, produced in Berlin, Pact Zollverein Essen, New York, and Los Angeles. Sternburg lives in Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. In 2016 she was co–recipient of the REDCAT AWARD, given to individuals who exemplify the creativity and talent that define and lead the evolution of contemporary culture. Her newest book (October, 2021) is I’ve Been Walking: Janet Sternburg Los Angeles Photographs.



Boris Dralyuk is the editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is co-editor (with Robert Chandler and Irina Mashinski) of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry, editor of 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution and Ten Poems from Russia, and translator of Isaac Babel, Maxim Osipov, Mikhail Zoshchenko, and other authrs. His poems have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Hopkins Review, The New Criterion, and elsewhere, and his collection My Hollywood and Other Poems will be published by Paul Dry Books in 2022.

Villa Aurora
520 Paseo Miramar
Los Angeles, CA 90272
Admission is free
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Street Parking is available on Los Liones Drive. Shuttle service starts at 6:30 pm from Los Liones Drive, off Sunset Boulevard two blocks North East of Pacific Coast Highway. Please do not park on the Topanga State Park Lot!

RSVP and Masks are required. Please bring one of the following documents required for admittance: Proof of Vaccination OR Proof of Immunity OR Proof of a Negative COVID Test performed no earlier than 48 hours prior to event.

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