fototazo continues posting new photography projects, providing a first look at work from select artists. Today's Project Release is Gregory Halpern's A which is soon to be released by J&L Books.
Gregory Halpern grew up in Buffalo, New York. He makes most of his photographs there. He has a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University and an MFA from California College of the Arts. He currently lives in Rochester, New York where he teaches Photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
My interest in photographing often begins with a curiosity about a particular place. I enjoy getting to know a city by wandering through it. I like to explore in a slow, somewhat intuitive way. I am particularly drawn to spaces that are public or shared (officially or unofficially), and spaces that have been altered or reclaimed.
In this case, I was loosely interested in a handful of cities—Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit and Buffalo. On the one hand, I am interested in the specific histories of these places. I grew up in Buffalo and live an hour away now, and have always felt a kinship with other post-industrial cities. On the other hand, I don't see these photographs as being about the cities in which they were made, or about the American Rust Belt in general. They do feel very much from the Rust Belt however. For me, the location of the images is usually less important than the feeling of the thing pictured.
For me, in getting to know a place, there is pleasure in the alertness generated by not knowing what is coming next. I am not interested in creating a tight "project" where unpredictability is lost or sacrificed for visual consistency. Life, and cities—especially old neighborhoods in old cities—are unpredictable, idiosyncratic and chaotic. Cultures and histories coexist; the beautiful sits next to the ugly, the hopeful and redemptive next to the despairing. That's what I find inspiring.