All photos by Katia Repina
Dec 17, 2020
A Brooklyn photographer explores intimacy in a year of distancing
Russian-born Katia Repina's 'Intimacy in the Time of Corona' is on display (virtually and in person) at NYU's Gallatin Galleries.
A year spent primarily in lockdown and in isolation was bound to result in some art—good, band and indifferent.
The New York University’s Gallatin Galleries is currently hosting a show dedicated to “intimacy in the age of virtual,” running through January 20. And before your mind goes straight to OnlyFans (did it ever leave?), the show, called “Far Away, So Close,” features the work of Brooklyn-based photographer Katia Repina, among others.
Repina’s voyeuristic photos, all shot in the borough, comprise her exhibition “Intimacy in the Time of Corona.” The images are seemingly mundane at first, and yet slightly haunting when studied with some attention. Couples, out in public, interact while showing varying degrees of closeness in a year that demanded anything but. A man reaches out to a woman, both in masks, in the heart of Prospect Park’s yawning meadow. A Hasidic couple smiles at each other on a rocky Red Hook outcropping, the viewer’s gaze framed by the bushes and bridge on which Repina stands creeping/shooting.
The Russian-born Repina is no stranger to peeping in on private moments. She spent four years documenting Spain’s porn industry from behind the scenes in an ongoing gritty series called “Hacia el Porno,” and is still at work documenting intersex identity in no fewer than seven countries for a project called “My Own Wings.”
Gallatin’s current “Far Away, So Close” show features the work of more than 13 artists in all, including New York Magazine’s The Cut Podcast “Love on Lockdown.” Fittingly, visitors can experience the exhibition remotely through a virtual tour. Remote visitors can accompany an in-person “visit friend” through the galleries via Zoom in a way that reflects the whole point of the show, which can also be viewed from the sidewalk in front of the galleries. The questions the exhibition asks are as tactile as they are esoteric:
To some, creating an intimate experience via the pixel and screen has seemed impossible. But what do we mean by intimate? If it is not the human touch combined with a kind of spiritual presence that can only be found in the company of another, is the meaning of the word being watered down, or is it being transformed and expanded, stretching to include even those with whom we do not share a physical space?
Something to ponder the next time you smash someone’s cyber tip jar button.
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