urban laundry

2012 - 2015

Lines heavy with laundry are a common sight in the towns and villages of many countries. But this simple solution to drying freshly washed items is one that Elianna Renner has often encountered in big cities too, on her numerous travels across the globe. Countless items, from sheets to pants, from skirts to lingerie, float without further ado above metropolitan terraces, streets, and backyards. The intercultural, cross-border character of this everyday practice hints at some fundamental truths—and this is what the artist tried to pinpoint in her photo series Urban Laundry. Far from washing dirty linen in public the matter here is to dry clean items: but this too reveals plenty about the class, identity, morals, religion, domestic culture, and self-image of the respective owners. Local traditions shapes each of these, it’s true; but they also bring something universal into play. This everyday practice renders permeable the borders of public and private space: intimate items that are worn against the skin and hence say something about their owner are hung out in public for all to see. Taken in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Israel, and South Africa, the images in this series reveal themselves to be a poignant study of a specific aspect of community life in which the public and the private are superposed.