September 12 - November 20, 2015

"Richard Renaldi is a matchmaker for tense times, asking complete strangers to pose with their bodies touching, as if they were intimates."1

Since 2007, Richard Renaldi has been working on a series of photographs made by approaching complete strangers to physically interact with each other while posing for a portrait. Working on the street with a large format 8 x 10 view camera, Renaldi encounters his subjects in towns and cities across the United States. He pairs them up and invites them to pose together in ways that people usually reserve for their loved ones and close friends. Renaldi creates spontaneous and fleeting relationships between strangers for the camera, often pushing his subjects beyond their comfort levels. These relationships may only last until 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. The exhibition features thirty-two photographs and two videos.

1. John Leland, "You May Touch A Stranger, Lens Blog, New York Times, July 5, 2013. Image above: Richard Renaldi, Hunter, Margaret, and Abigail, New York, New York, 2013, archival pigment print. 


Organized by Aperture Foundation, New York. Curator: Ann Pallesen, Gallery Director, Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle. The travelling exhibition Touching Strangers was made possible, in part, with the support of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.



Artist's Bio

Richard Renaldi was born in Chicago in 1968. He received his BFA in photography from New York University in 1990. Exhibitions of his photographs have been mounted in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. In 2006 Renaldi's first monograph, Figure and Ground, was published by the Aperture Foundation. His second monograph, Fall River Boys, was released in 2009 by Charles Lane Press. Renaldi's most recent monograph Touching Strangers, was released by the Aperture Foundation in the spring of 2014. In 2015 Richard was named a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in Photography.

A book on the series with 71 full color images with an introduction by Teju Cole, published by Aperture is available for sale.

Exhibition-Related Programs

All events, unless noted, are free.

Artist's Talk: Richard Renaldi and Opening Reception
Saturday, September 12, 3-6pm
Murphy Recital Hall and Laband Art Gallery
Photographer Richard Renaldi will discuss his work at 3pm followed by a reception celebrating the opening of the exhibition at 4pm. The talk is co-organized by the Laband Art Gallery and KaleidoLA: The Speaker Series of the Department of Art and Art History.

Monticello Wakes (World Premiere Opera on the Life of Sally Hemings)
October 16, 17 & 18, Times TBA
Murphy Recital Hall, Tickets TBA
Garrett Fisher music & libretto I Tim Appelo libretto I Ken Cerniglia director I Tori Ellison visual design
Monticello Wakes investigates American identity at a nexus of conflicting ideals and actions.

Human Library
Wednesday, October 21, noon-3pm
Laband Art Gallery and Dunning Courtyard
In collaboration with the William H. Hannon Library, the Laband will host LMU's fourth annual Human Library, as a part of an international movement designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices, and encourage understanding between strangers simply through the art of one-on-one conversation.

Dancing Touching Strangers
Tuesday, October 27 and Wednesday, November 4, 7pm
Laband Art Gallery
For two nights, a series of dance duet—inspired by Richard Renaldi's photographs and his concept of "touching strangers"—will enliven the gallery space. Like the people in Renaldi's photographs, the dancers will come together from various communities. The duets are choreographed by LMU Professor Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo. The event is in collaboration with LMU's Dance Program.


All images by Richard Renaldi, all image are archival pigment prints.

  1. Vincent and Charles, Los Angeles, California, 2012
  2. Tori, Shawn, and Summer, Los Angeles, California, 2012
  3. Jeromy and Matthew, Columbus, Ohio, 2011
  4. Shalom and Jeff, Brooklyn, New York, 2013