Chromogenic print, from the series "On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam," edition 1 of 7
Inscribed and signed recto, on mount, lower right, below image, in black ink: "Gateway National Park, Rockaway Peninsula, Queens, New York. (September 1993) / 1/7 Joel Sternfeld"; unmarked verso
Almost 300 illegal Chinese immigrants struggled against the pounding surf to reach the shore of the United States on the night of June 6, 1993. Ten died of drowning or hypothermia; the rest escaped or were taken into custody.
The immigrants had endured four and a half months of brutal conditions in transit before their vessel, the Golden Venture, hit a sandbar 200 yards off this beach. They were crammed into a twenty-by-forty-foot hold; food and water were scarce; sanitation conditions were subhuman.
Of those arrested, forty-seven were deported to China, thirty were granted asylum, and forty-six were released. At the end of 1995, 147 were still in federal custody. Lee Peng Fei, the suspected mastermind of the failed voyage, had demanded $30,000 from each would-be immigrant. He was arrested in Bangkok in November 1995.
From the series, On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam
47.5 x 60.2 cm (image/paper); 71.3 x 82.8 cm (mount)
Acquired from the Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, through an Anonymous Gift
Extended information about this artwork
Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "A Measure of Nature: Landscape Photographs from the Permanent Collection,: May30-September 7, 1998.
Chicago, IL, Museum of Contemporary Photography "Loaded Landscapes" 16 August - 13 October 2007.
Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "On This Site," December 14, 1996 - April 18, 1997.
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