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Elias Rive at Camphill Village, USA, Copake, New York

A work made of chromogenic print, from the series "sweet earth: experimental utopias in america".

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  • A work made of chromogenic print, from the series "sweet earth: experimental utopias in america".


June 2005


Joel Sternfeld
American, born 1944

About this artwork


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Joel Sternfeld


Elias Rive at Camphill Village, USA, Copake, New York


United States


Made 2005


Chromogenic print, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"


No markings recto or verso Elias Rive’s day begins at 5:45 in the morning, when he walks out to the fields to bring the cows back to the barn for milking. The process is repeated each afternoon as part of the daily rituals of farming life at Camphill Village. Elias is one of roughly 240 adults who live in small extended-family households in this six-hundred-acre community of farmland, gardens and forests. Some of these residents are villagers (people with developmental disabilities) and some are volunteers (co-workers and their children). Collectively, the village and its inhabitants are the living realization of the vision of the Austrian pediatrician Dr. Karl König and the philosophy of the Austrian scientist and educator Rudolf Steiner. Steiner’s ideas defy simple description, but when he founded the Anthroposophical Society in 1924, he dedicated it to people everywhere who wanted to “foster the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world.” The Camphill Village movement (there are ten communities in the US and a hundred worldwide) is based upon providing a fully integrated environment, where people of all ages and abilities share home, work and social activities. “Social therapy,” the continual creation of a healing social and physical environment, also plays a part. Like the Japanese Nobel laureate in literature Kenzaburo Oe, who wrote about what he learned from his mentally disabled son, adherents of this therapy point out that people with special needs are themselves teachers and care givers. “What does it mean,” Camphill Village asks in its literature, “to recognize the spiritual integrity and unique destiny of each individual?” As Elias walks down the road with purpose on a summer afternoon, an answer comes to mind. From the portfolio, Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America, 1982–2005


26.5 × 33.2 cm (image); 27.9 × 35.5 cm (paper)

Credit Line

Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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