Alessandra Sanguinetti in residency in France

27 Apr 2017
29 Jun 2017
Ivana, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris, 2016 © Alessandra Sanguinetti
Ahmet’s bird, Campagne Larousse, Marseille, 2016 © Alessandra Sanguinetti
Alessandra Sanguinetti, "Intermission", Saint-Martin-Boulogne, 2016 © Alessandra Sanguinetti
In 2016, Alessandra Sanguinetti (b. 1968, United States), the second laureate of Immersion, a French-American Photography Commission of the Hermès Foundation, carried out a travelling residency over the course of several months across France. She criss-crossed the country, allowing chance and random events to determine her itinerary and her subjects. The following year, a publication and an exhibition at the Aperture Gallery, New York, attested to this immersive journey through France.

It all began in Calais, France’s largest maritime port and a city that could easily be visited by anyone arriving from the United States. There, on the outskirts of a refugee camp, Sanguinetti encountered “Le Gendarme sur la Colline” (“The Policeman on the Hill”), which gave its title to the broader series of photographs. This ambivalent figure, embodying at once security and fear, encapsulates the “subtle tensions between the old and the new” that Sanguinetti observed on her road trip across France. She subsequently travelled along the Normandy coast and to Marseilles, crossing France’s countryside, villages and cities along her way before ending her residency with a spell in Paris.

Sanguinetti’s approach to the project was not that of a documentary-maker, however. She rather offers an account of an intuitive voyage that often takes on dream-like dimensions. Her gaze alights upon evolving traditions, the unexpected poetry of the everyday and the apparent longevity of certain national archetypes. Whether children in costumes, jockeys, salesmen or actors, each portrait of the series results in a relationship, however fleeting, between the photographer and the strangers that she makes her subjects. The works exhibited at the Aperture Gallery and in the book published by Aperture on behalf of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès thus constitute an often mysterious oeuvre.

With Immersion, an annual programme of alternating residencies, exhibitions and publications dedicated to photographers, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès supports contemporary photography by enabling the creation, exhibition and publication of new work. On a yearly alternating basis, Immersion is open either to 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. The mentor for this second edition was writer and photography curator Susan Bright.

Visual arts
Aperture Gallery
New York
United States
In 2016, Alessandra Sanguinetti carried out a travelling residency in France over the course of several months.
Sanguinetti’s work focuses on the evolution of traditions and on the unexpected poetry of the everyday.
A publication and an exhibition recounted the photographer’s immersion in France.


  • Practical information

    "Le Gendarme sur la Colline",
    an exhibition by Alessandra Sanguinetti
    from 27/04/2017 to 29/06/2017

    Aperture Gallery, New York

  • Available in bookstores

    Alessandra Sanguinetti,
    Le Gendarme sur la Colline,
    published by Aperture / Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, 2017

See also