Over the course of multiple summers, Meeks ventured the few miles from his home in the Catskill Mountain region of New York to a wooded place known in the area as Furlong, a gathering place for generations of local youth, drawn there to jump over a waterfall that drops into a forbidding pond 60 feet below. Meeks shows these youth as a loose community perched on the cusp of adulthood, poised literally and figuratively on a precipice both in space and their lives.
Black-and-white photographs show young divers in mid-jump, Meeks’s camera momentarily arresting them in space as they drop beyond his frame into a black void. Other photographs show them picking their way through the surrounding woods, using trails pockmarked with debris and graffiti-marked rocks. Interposed are color pictures of thin trees and vegetation photographed from a car, simultaneously sharply rendered and blurred by velocity. Taken altogether, these pictures present a nearly prayerlike sense of ritual, a procession of youth accelerating into something unknown yet vitally necessary, with a fleeting, quiet weightlessness at its center.
The exhibition also includes selections from other bodies of Meeks’s work, “Ciprian Honey Cathedral,” “Winter Farm Auction,” and “Township.” These works, more firmly grounded in adulthood and its attendant requirements of responsibility and perseverance, provide a striking visual contrast to the divers at Furlong, showing that the weightlessness of youth yields quickly to the weight of adulthood. This part of the show also includes a small selection of connected works by the photographers Adrianna Ault and Tim Carpenter, compatriots and occasional co-conspirators. Their inclusion here reflects Meeks’s belief that—like the youthful gatherings at Furlong and the farmers meeting for auction—“there is solace to be found in communion with others and in refuge with the natural world.”
Raymond Meeks (Ohio, 1963) has been recognized for his photographs and photobooks centered on family and place. His book Halfstory Halflife (Chose Commune, 2018), centered around his work at Furlong, was a finalist for the Paris Photo/Aperture Photobook of the Year Award. In 2016, he was the recipient of a Siskind Fellowship Grant. Recent group exhibitions include Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen (2018), Charles Hartman Gallery (2018), and Unseen Photo Fair (Amsterdam, 2016). He has published nearly 20 photobooks, many intricately handmade and self-published in small editions, and others published by Chose Commune, TIS Books, TBW Books, and Nazraeli Press. Meeks’s work can be found in the collections of George Eastman House, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Corcoran Gallery of Art; and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.