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Cover of Ocean | Desert published by Radius Books (August, 2014)

Renate Aller | Ocean Desert | Photo Walls in Picture Collection Exhibition Series

The Art Collection presents the photography exhibition of color archival pigment prints titled Ocean | Desert by established artist Renate Aller. The series of lush and sublime diptych photographs document the artist’s visits to White Sands in New Mexico on Easter Sundays. 

Traditionally families from this border region celebrate Easter (Pascua) at White Sands. The images are paired with oceanscapes of the Atlantic as the dunes’ minerals carry the memory of the ocean that was there millions of years ago. Since the 1940s atomic missile tests have been conducted in this area, yet, once a year, border families gather for a peaceful time, as violence, anger and fear are swept away for a day. 

In her studio, the artist printed the first combination of these images for a hand-made book that was 40 inches wide. This artist book inspired publisher Radius Books to produce a trade edition, in 2014, which includes an expanded selection of the work. 

Ocean | Desert, 4, archival pigment print, 2014. © Renate Aller
Ocean | Desert, 4, archival pigment print, 2014. © Renate Aller

Renate Aller Joins photographer Beth Moon for An Artist Dialogue Series event on Wednesday May 17 at 6:30 PM in the Corner Room on the 1st floor. Copies of Ocean | Desert are available for purchase and signing at the event.

The exhibition series Photo Walls in Picture Collection is curated by Arezoo Moseni.

Artist Statement

The way we are looking at nature from a distance is similar to the way painters of the romantic period presented their work to the viewer. While our human desire is to tame and our relationship is one of intervention and domination, our ambivalence with nature is reflected in the way we look at it. We use the landscape image as a mirror of ourselves – filled with illusions, desire, and nostalgia – and as a fulfillment of our idealized self. We expect nature to present itself as a stage set for our entertainment.

Playing with the effect of an image by putting together two visual representations, or a grid of multiple images, the viewer is asked to make the connection of multiple experiences. There is a similar effect in the linguistic world, where the placement of multiple words creates meaning depending on the placement and relationship of these words. There is no linear narrative. Reality cannot be found outside representation and therefore representation cannot be tested against the real. The search for truth is irrelevant and eliminates objectivity.

My projects support my investigation into the relationship between Romanticism, memory and landscape - in the context of our current socio-political awareness.

Ocean | Desert, 11, archival pigment print, 2014. © Renate Aller
Ocean | Desert, 11, archival pigment print, 2014. © Renate Aller

Born in Germany, Renate Aller lives and works in New York. Ocean and Desert is her third monograph published with Radius Books after dicotyledon and the long term project Oceanscapes - One View - Ten Years. Pieces from that series and other site specific art works are in the collections of corporate institutions, private collectors and museums, including Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. ; Yale University Art Gallery, Connecticut; George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany; Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin and Parrish Art Museum, Watermill, New York.

April 11th, 2017 - June 28th, 2017 Stephen A. Schwarzman Building