From The Great Leap Sideways:
Gregory Halpern’s A begins with a warning, an invitation and a sort of subtle disclaimer. In fact it begins before this and in a more complex way, but we can leave that for later on. The first photograph of the sequence is of a kitten not quite yet cat, pausing mid-stride to turn and in baring its sharp teeth warning us off as intruders who have barely entered the fray. The cat seems to be crossing an unremarkable byroad that could as readily traverse the countryside as the outskirts of a small city. Its location, its provenance, the reason for its deep hostility or fear – all of this and more remains unclear, unspecified, unexplained. For a viewer new to Halpern’s work, to begin with such a photograph could well seem wilfully obtuse or irreverent or deliberately misleading in some way, but a kitten not yet cat will warn off a stranger for fear that they may stray too close, seek to touch or worse still take hold of them, and in taking possession of them do them harm – rob them of something that is essentially theirs. The photograph works as a mirror as well as an admonishment or alarm – as much for the photographer as for the viewer. It warns us to have a care, to tread a little lightly and with caution, to be careful as to what it is we seek to take hold of, careful about what it is that we think we might possess. It warns us not to try to get too close.