Joel Sternfeld's Rogue, Tired Elephant

AJ’s post about Alec Soth made me think of Joel Sternfeld’s work. In particular, it reminded me of the photograph above, Exhausted Renegade Elephant, Woodland, Washington, 1982, which I recently saw in the Wanderlust exhibition at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum (Click here for my take on that show in Review Magazine). The photograph is similar to Soth’s work in that it raises more questions than provides answers. How did the elephant get there? Who are the people surrounding it? Is the elephant on the verge of death? Or is he simply taking a break in the middle of the road? Am I supposed to smile at the absurdity of the situation? Or sympathize with the elephant’s plight? And what does it mean that Sternfeld took the photograph from this angle and distance?

What do you think?

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