International Center of Photography
ICP Member Spotlight
ICP member since 1999
What first brought you to ICP and why did you decide to become a member?
My first visit to ICP must have been around 1994 on a trip to New York from London. This institution fascinates me 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 City our permanent home in 1999.
What has been your favorite ICP moment, class, program, exhibition, or photographer so far?
In September 23, 2021, Diana Markosian showed the multimedia installation Santa Barbara and gave a talk to a small group. This exhibition will stay with me my entire life as it touched my soul very deeply. Below is the image I posted on Instagram that day.
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 media, including photography, as vehicles for her work as an artist and activist. Her work is sensual, witty, and seductive whilst creating political and social awareness. She is dissolving the hierarchy between Art and Viewer, object and subject.
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.
What type of photographs do you take?
My most recent project, a solo museum exhibition and book: The Space Between Memory and Expectation is about the interval, the space in between, the moments during which apparently nothing happens, but without these moments no change could happen. The Space between Memory and Expectation is another way to describe this state of stillness and transition.
The apparent “still” nature we romanticize is an ever changing and moving condition with the disappearance of the permafrost being the main cause for landslides. Entire glaciers disappear and will never return, our main source for drinking water and growing crops. These 62 x 91 inches large images, hanging only 6 inches apart from each other, create an immersive room experience for the viewer and show the interconnectedness of distant environments. The silent and continuous erosion trickling from the top of the mountains, via the glaciers, tropical forests, sand dunes, icefields into the ocean.
In presenting the familiar and the known in an intimate way, relating to parallel realities from different locations, this project is opening up conversations between the different emotional, political, and actual landscapes in which we live.
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. As spectators of the scene, we are “here” yet we are able to project and transport ourselves to “somewhere else. Communicating with Makeda Best during the months of her writing an the essay for my book and our public Museum talk during the solo exhibition was very touching and inspiring.
You can learn more about Renate’s work on her website, www.renatealler.com, and Instagram, @renateallerstudio.
The International Center of Photography (ICP), located at 79 Essex Street, New York City, is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture.