Photographs made in the artist’s hometown—Buffalo, New York—over the past fifteen years fill the entire exhibition space with color images and sculptures depicting aspects of this once-majestic industrial city. Over his career, Halpern has honed a unique pictorial language that combines documentary reportage with a poetic surrealism; he frames his subjects obliquely, often in couplets or series, building a multivalent perspective of each. Halpern builds an intimate skein of images depicting people, architecture, the monumental and small moments.
Halpern’s practice is firmly rooted in the American social documentary tradition, beginning with Dorothea Lange and the other Farm Security Administration photographers working in the 1930s. Overwhelmingly interested in communicating aspects of various social conditions throughout the United States, he has concentrated his artistic work on the publication of photo books rather than gallery presentations. His award-winning books, published by small presses as well as Aperture and MACK publications, include Omaha Sketchbook (2009), A. (2011), ZZYZX (2016), Confederate Moons (2018), and Soleil cou coupé (2020). Halpern’s pictures reach beyond well-defined subjects into the tangential; the work tackles head on broader issues of class and equity in a post-capitalist society.
Recent museum shows include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; International Center of Photography, NY; and the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, Paris. Halpern received his BA in history at Harvard and his MFA at California College of the Arts. He resides in Rochester with his family and teaches at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Organized by the photographer with Lisa Kurzner and Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell.