What first brought you to ICP and why did you decide to become a member? My first visit to the ICP must have been around 1994 on a trip to New York from London (on 5th avenue at 94th). I am fascinated by this institution as it not only trains photographers, but also questions and opens up discussions on the reading of images and their presentation. My husband Hugh and I joined as members after we made New York our permanent home in 1999.
What has been your favorite ICP moment, class, program, exhibition, or photographer? I love the lecture series at ICP!
If you could meet a photographer, who would it be? Valie Export. Her work influenced me greatly during my years at art school and thereafter. She encompasses many medias, including photography, as a vehicle for her work as an artist and activist. Her work is sensual, witty and seductive whilst creating political and social awareness.
Do you collect photography? Do you have any notable works in your collection?
As artists exchange their work, and have done so for centuries, I am very lucky to own works by wonderful artists that were presents or art – exchanges from Norman Parkinson, Horst P. Horst, among others.
As a visual artist, have there been any defining moments in your career or interesting experiences you would like to share with us? One of my teachers at art school in London was Ian Breakwell. His book Seeing in The Dark had a major influence in the direction of my work and it helped me to realize that engaging with an image is similar to the experience one has in front of a cinema screen. We, as spectators of the scene, are “here” yet we are able to project ourselves to “somewhere else.”
What inspires you?
The moment between sound and silence.
Are you working on any projects that you would like to tell us about?
A new Photography project, accompanied by a monograph titled Ocean | Desert (publication Fall 2014), is an extension of the ongoing series and book oceanscapes-1999 to present (Radius Books, 2010). This monograph is accompanied by a text by Janet Dees the Curator for Site Santa Fe.
I continued to make images of the ocean from a single vantage point— but for the last several years, I have also photographed sand dunes in New Mexico and Colorado.
I paired the resulting images in a new series that continues my investigation into the relationship between Romanticism, memory and landscape in the context of our current socio-political awareness. There is both a visual and visceral relationship between the two bodies of work, as the minerals of the sand dunes carry the memory of the ocean that was there millions of years before. They carry each other’s memory. The desert images also capture visitors to the dunes, who engage in beach activities far away from any large body of water. And while these parallel realities were found in completely different locations, the simultaneous, multiple activities on the sloping sand hills appear as if layers of different people and activities were choreographed next to rolling waves of the sea.
Renate Aller, Ocean | Desert diptych, paper size 16″x 40″
Do you have any words of advice for young artists?
Believe in your own projects and do not follow trends.