Touching Strangers, photographs by Richard Renaldi

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by Teju Cole, Aperture, April 2014

https://aperture.org/shop/touching-strangers-richard-renaldi-books/

Richard Renaldi (born in Chicago, 1968) graduated from New York University with a BFA in photography in 1990. Since 2007, Richard Renaldi has been working on a series of photographs that involve approaching and asking complete strangers to physically interact while posing together for a portrait. Working on the street with a large format 8-by-10-inch view camera, Renaldi encounters the subjects for his photographs in towns and cities all over the United States. He pairs them up and invites them to pose together, intimately, in ways that people are usually taught to reserve for their close friends and loved ones.

Renaldi creates spontaneous and fleeting relationships between strangers for the camera, often pushing his subjects beyond their comfort levels. These relationships may only last for the moment the shutter is released, but the resulting photographs are moving and provocative, and raise profound questions about the possibilities for positive human connection in a diverse society. 

Richard Renaldi (born in Chicago, 1968) graduated from New York University with a BFA in photography in 1990. He has presented solo exhibitions both in the United States and abroad, including at Fotografins Hus, Stockholm; Robert Morat Galerie, Hamburg, Germany; and Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.

“Touching Strangers” is an intergenerational art series. The photo series shows how human connection can happen anywhere. While this photo series prompts strangers to interact, it is an example of a spontaneous interaction; people certainly didn’t wake up expecting this interaction to happen. This spontaneity is something I hope to emulate in my project.

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