In April 2020, when New York was in lockdown and the epicenter of the pandemic, Renate Aller created the project “side walk”. She hosted friends and neighbors on her sidewalk or visited them in their street, her camera in self-timer mode, recording these masked encounters at a safe 6 feet distance.
“With voices muted by masks, we learn to communicate with our eyes and body language, finding our bearings in a new emotional landscape. This project is in the spirit of Rainer Maria Rilke: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other. We are all looking at art and life now, more than ever before – through the lens of our times – art in the time of Covid-19 and our current socio-political awareness heightened by the recent events surrounding the murder of George Floyd and many others.
I created the project ” side walk” with my camera during the lockdown period when NYC was the epicenter of the pandemic.
This time in history reminds me of the period right after 9/11. I took images of interiors as the drama was one of the exteriors, the monumentality of this city was attacked and therefore I pointed the lens into the private spaces. We were all afraid for our own safety then. Today we are feeling pain and are more afraid for others.
As a reaction to people’s lives in solitude ….. For most of April and May, I hosted friends and neighbors on our sidewalk or visited them in their street – from a safe 6’ distance, with face masks, the camera in self-timer mode recording these encounters.
These sidewalk visits give us a deep sense of community where the community has been forced apart.” (Renate Aller). Texts by Marilyn S. Kushner, Lara Pan.
About the Author
Born in Germany, Renate Aller lives and works in New York. “The Space Between Memory and Expectation” and “side walk 6′ apart in NYC” are her most recent books, both published by Kehrer Verlag, Germany. “Mountain Interval” and the artist’s previous projects “Ocean and Desert”, “dicotyledon” (published by Radius Books of Santa Fe), and the long term project “Oceanscapes – One View – Ten Years” (co-published by Kehrer Verlag and Radius Books) support the artist’s investigation into the relationship between Romanticism, memory, and landscape – in the context of our current socio-political awareness.
Her works are in the collections of corporate institutions, private collectors, and museums, including Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe, N.M., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Yale University Art Gallery, CT, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, New Britain Museum of American Art, CT, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Le Locle, Switzerland, and New-York Historical Society Museum, New York, NY Where a solo exhibition with “side walk 6′ apart in NYC” will be held in March – July 2022.