Home Events - Trixie's List Art Gallery Exhibition Art Gallery Opening Arts “Hoops” solo show of photographs by Sean Hemmerle

“Hoops” solo show of photographs by Sean Hemmerle

Sean Hemmerle


February 17th-April 7th, 2024
Reception, Sat Feb 17th, 4-6
Fri-Sun 12-5 & by appt

205 Warren Street, Hudson, NY

The Front Room Gallery is proud to present “Hoops,” by Sean Hemmerle. In “Hoops,” Hemmerle takes a look at the cultural phenomenon and spread of the American sport of basketball to all corners of the globe. Hemmerle’s photographic portraits of basketball courts document sites in over 14 countries in North America, Central America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

In these times of global strife and turmoil, Hemmerle’s “Hoops” series emerges as a poignant testament to the enduring power of a simple sport that originated in Springfield, Massachusetts. Against the backdrop of worldwide challenges, the project illuminates the universal appeal of basketball, transcending the barriers of language, religion, and geopolitical divides. Hemmerle’s lens captures the essence of a game that speaks a universal language of camaraderie, resilience, and unity, offering a visual narrative that resonates with audiences irrespective of their cultural or linguistic background.

The exhibition “Hoops” features 24 photographs from the USA, The Netherlands, Iraq, Lebanon, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Palestine, Iceland, Mexico, Cyprus, France, China, Morocco and more. Some of the photos are of historically important locations to basketball, such as the backboard in Springfield, MA, the birthplace of basketball. In the photograph “Springfield College, Springfield, MA, USA 2023” a nondescript rectangular backboard stands stoically on a cracked, beat up blacktop surrounded by a wall of pine trees, their branches forming a natural enclosure that provides a stark contrast to the man-made structure. Other locations are in places not traditionally thought of to be havens for basketball.

Most westerners might not know that basketball is the most popular team sport in China. In Hemmerle’s captivating photo, titled “Pingyou, China, 2006” transports viewers to a vastly different setting. The playing surface, a burnt sienna-colored dirt with no clearly defined out-of-bounds or free throw lines. Behind the backstop there is a massive brick wall, topped with ornate decorative blocks. Painted upon the brick surface are massive red and black Chinese characters.

The court in Hemmerle’s photograph “Nebatieh, Lebanon, 2007” also has an unorthodox surface: it appears be built on an old crumbling building foundation. The backstop is homemade from materials on hand, and held up by a rusty scaffold. In the background, an olive grove adds a touch of natural serenity, while a dusty Mediterranean village perches on a hillside, providing a scenic and timeless setting for the game. Unlike the court in China, this one has undeniable nods to its American roots: free throw lines on the cement and “N.B.A.” hand-painted on the rusty backstop.

In “Hoops,” Hemmerle skillfully transforms the basketball backstops into compelling portraits, devoid of human presence yet rich in narrative. The absence of people in the frames allows the backstops to take center stage, becoming the subjects and storytellers in their own right. Each backstop is captured frontally, occupying the central position in every photograph, as if standing proudly at the heart of the composition. The backgrounds surrounding these solitary characters serve as visual cues, portraying the nationalities, climates, and relative wealth of the diverse locations. The landscapes become integral to the storytelling, adding layers of cultural and environmental context to each image. Whether against the backdrop of a dusty Chinese court, a rustic Lebanese foundation, or any other location, the backstops become symbolic anchors that connect the viewer to the essence of each place.

Displayed in grids within the exhibition, the photographs are intentionally uniform in size. This deliberate choice strips away hierarchy, ensuring that no single location is given more importance than another. The grid format encourages viewers to appreciate the collective impact of the images.

Hemmerle’s approach turns the backstops into universal icons, allowing them to communicate stories of resilience, cultural identity, and the common thread of basketball that runs through communities around the world. The grid layout fosters a sense of unity, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the global mosaic of basketball courts captured by Hemmerle’s lens.

Hemmerle’s first solo exhibition at Front Room was “Three Generations of High Explosives’ in Brooklyn, in the spring of 2002. Since then Hemmerle has had multiple solo and group shows at Front Room including the popular “Secret Collaborators,”“When Lines are Drawn,” “Rust Belt,” and “Brutal Legacy.” Hemmerle has exhibited nationally and internationally. His work can be found in public and private collections including: the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center for Photography, Martin Margulies, Elton John, Houston Fine Arts Museum, Saatchi London, and Brooks Brothers. His images have been featured in major publications, including Metropolis, Time and The New York Times Magazine.


Apr 07 2024


12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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