THE SPACE BETWEEN
January 11, 2023 | By Suzanne Révy
The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.
~ Henry David Thoreau in Walden
When Henry David Thoreau observed the ice harvests on Walden Pond, he marveled at the spiritual ramifications of the frozen water traveling to faraway continents. He understood the pathways and networks that bind the elemental aspects of a diverse world and our role in nature. In The Space Between Memory and Expectation, artist Renate Aller unites boundless landscapes of divergent locations into visual conversations. Her site specific installation Renate Aller: The Space Between Memory and Expectationis on view at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Brattleboro, Vermont through February 12th 2023.
Aller’s hypnotic large scale landscapes are intended to function as picture windows on the world. Exploring the mountains in Europe, South America, and Asia, the sand dunes in Colorado, the tropical swamps of Florida among others, Aller endows diverse ecosystems in transcendent splendor through visual cues in unexpected sequencing. A trio of expansive prints, for example, featuring a glacier in New Zealand, the snow capped summits of the Valdez Range in Alaska and clouds dipping into the valleys between the heights of the Swiss Alps form a unique landscape that cannot be witnessed together in person. Yet, Aller invites viewers into an immersive fictional viewshed that resonates with a palpable sense of geologic interconnection through time and space.
A ridge in the Patagonia region of Chile reaches toward striations carved in the German alps. Or the fractal patterns in the Himalayas are mirrored in the obsidian dirt found in Alaska. Storm clouds over the Atlantic beckon to the Great Sand Dunes. Textures, shapes and markings forged through wind, rain or melting glaciers teem across Aller’s pictures. These dynamic landscapes seem to inhale at the rising seas then exhale in tectonic shifts. Aller has animated her pictures with the rhythms and seductions of life.
The scale of the work is monumental while the presence of humanity is slight. Three figures roam across the Great Sand Dunes and there is a small Cross perched atop an alp. Our efforts to conquer the earth look futile here, but in reality, human activity has impacted the cadences of the seasons with hurricanes and wildfires becoming more frequent and violent. Aller reveals a reverence for the both the harshness and the regenerative vitality of nature, but her message is filled with urgency. In order to keep our blue planet hospitable for human and animal life, we must understand how integrated we are with this living, breathing organism called “earth.”
An in-person conversation between Renate Aller and Makeda Djata Best, the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography and the interim head of the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museums is planned for this Friday, January 13th at 7:00pm.
Originally published on What Will You Remember?