Immersion: Gregory Halpern, Vasantha Yogananthan, Raymond Meeks

International Center of Photography, New York, 2023

Immersion: Gregory Halpern, Raymond Meeks, and Vasantha Yogananthan is an exhibition showcasing three projects created by the artists during their respective residencies—Halpern’s in Guadeloupe, Yogananthan’s in New Orleans, and Meeks’s in France.

The photography projects are part of Immersion, a French-American Photography Commission created by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès and presented in collaboration with ICP and the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris. Consisting of alternating residencies between France and the United States, the Immersion program supports contemporary photography, with each laureate creating an original project to be shared with a wide audience through exhibitions at ICP and the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well as through publications. Gregory Halpern’s book Let the Sun Beheaded Be (2020) is published by Aperture; Vasantha Yogananthan’s Mystery Street (2023) is published by Chose Commune; and Raymond Meeks’s The Inhabitants (2023) is published by MACK.

About Immersion

Immersion, a French-American Photography Commission program created by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, supports photography in France and the United States through the making, exhibition, and publication of contemporary photography. Each year, within the framework of a partnership between the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, and the International Center of Photography, an artist residency results in an exhibition at each of the two latter institutions. The exhibitions from Gregory Halpern, Raymond Meeks, and Vasantha Yogananthan are accompanied by a bilingual photobook in English and French.

Launched in 2014, Immersion is an annual program featuring residencies, exhibitions, and publications. On a yearly alternating basis, Immersion is open to either photographers based in France, who are mentored by a French professional as they create a new photographic work in the United States, or to photographers based in the United States, who are mentored by an Anglophone professional as they create a new photographic work in France. Through this original photographic commission, the Foundation enables artists to pursue significant new projects that articulate their visions of the geographical and cultural territory they explore during their residencies.

About the Projects

Let the Sun Beheaded Be by Gregory Halpern (USA) is an ensemble of photographs taken during his 2019 residency in the archipelago of Guadeloupe, an overseas region of France with a violent colonial past. Guided by the region’s rich diversity and vernacular culture, Halpern’s images embrace and develop the Caribbean Surrealism of Martinican writer Aimé Césaire (1913–2008), from whose work the project’s title is borrowed. Slow and intimate, Halpern’s photographs pick out small details in which the tremors of history can be felt.

Installation photos by Jeenah Moon

Vasantha Yogananthan (France) made Mystery Street in New Orleans during the spring and summer of 2022. Following a group of children as they play and explore together, Yogananthan’s images are alert to the subtleties of place, friendship, and growth. Replete with the artist’s celebrated attention to light and sumptuous use of color, Mystery Street is a visual poem told in fragments, full of life, light, and the possibilities of youth.

Installation photos by Jeenah Moon

Raymond Meeks (USA), an artist renowned for the unhurried nuance and contemplative intelligence of his photographs, spent much of 2022 in two regions of France—the southern border with Spain and the northern coast along the English Channel—that are important crossings for asylum seekers making their way to the United Kingdom. The Inhabitants, infused with care and deep empathy, looks to the land itself—its traces and pathways—as a silent witness to uncertain futures. What are the effects of this type of migrant life, when one is forced to leave behind one’s culture, to feel unseen and voiceless, to not feel at home in the world? This debut presentation of The Inhabitants features photographs interspersed with fragmentary texts by George Weld, in a deeply empathetic exploration of the terrain that illuminates the spaces of temporary dwelling and fraught transit of so many who are seeking better lives.

Installation photos by Jeenah Moon

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