NEW YORK, NY.- Aperture
and the Fondation dentreprise Hermès present Let the Sun Beheaded Be, the latest book by influential contemporary photographer Gregory Halpern.
This compelling new series of photographs presents a thoughtful and visually striking depiction of the Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe, a French overseas region with a complicated and violent colonial history. The title of the book is borrowed from Martinican writer Aimé Césaire (19132008), whose Surrealist poetry inspired Halpern during his time in Guadeloupe.
The project, developed over the course of several months, commingles life and death, nature and culture, and beauty and decay in enigmatic color images of the archipelagos residents and lush landscape, as well as monuments related to the brutality of its past. Conscious of that history, and of Guadeloupes subsequent scars, the photographers approach is one of sensitivity, curiosity, and visual receptivity. Drawn to contradiction and the incongruous, Halpern places the natural beauty and the troubling history of the archipelago side by side, forcing the viewer to resolve for themselves this dark, cryptic, and beautiful mix of images.
Two texts accompany the work: an essay by curator and editor Clément Chéroux, who grapples with Guadeloupes history in relation to the French Revolution, Surrealism, and Martinican poet Aimé Césaire; and a conversation between Halpern and photographer and critic Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, considering Halperns process and personal history, as well as the politics of representation.
The project is part of Immersion, a French-American Photography Commission, a program of the Fondation dentreprise Hermès, in partnership with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Gregory Halpern (born in Buffalo, New York, 1977) received a BA in history and literature from Harvard University, and an MFA from California College of the Arts. In 2014, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has published six books of his work: Harvard Works Because We Do (2003); A (2011); East of the Sun, West of the Moon (in collaboration with Ahndraya Parlato, 2014); ZZYZX (2016); Confederate Moons (2018); and Omaha Sketchbook (2019). He is coeditor of The Photographers Playbook (with Jason Fulford, Aperture, 2014) and teaches at Rochester Institute of Technology, New York.
Clément Chéroux is the newly appointed Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Previously, he was the senior curator in the Department of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and chief curator of photography at the Musée National dArt Moderne at the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa is a photographer, educator, and writer. His publication One Wall a Web (2018) won the 2018 Paris PhotoAperture Foundation First PhotoBook Award.