Our parents gave us the age-old rule growing up, “Don’t talk to strangers!” With this in mind, many of us deter from ever talking to strangers. But what about touching strangers? Yep, that’s right, you read correctly—touching strangers. This is exactly what 45-year-old New York artist, Richard Renaldi wants you to do.
Richard Renaldi’s latest book, Touching Strangers, set to release in April 2014, exposes the awkward intimacy involved between individuals on the street who go along with his request. Renaldi, who traveled from bustling cities like New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco to small towns in the Midwest, got different feedback from the people he encountered on his journey. “I got rejected doing this project. Like, a lot,” he divulged to Mashable. “At least 60% of the people I asked wanted nothing to do with me,”
Renaldi thought of the idea and decided to make it a series of photos that eventually turned into its own book. Renaldi developed the series by approaching different people on the street and asking if they knew each other. If the answer was no, he would ask if he could snap a picture of them together. Each of these photos become their own individual story and provided a piece for the book. The photos range from a young girl and a police officer posing together to a middle-aged woman and college-aged girl hugging.
The project revealed much about people in general, “I learned that people have this deep, universal desire to connect with other people. I’m just the facilitator, the one making it happen here, but I think it partially comes from my own desires as well,” Renaldi exposes. “It’s not just a social experiment—maybe it’s something in me that’s looking for a connection, too.”
This experiment—as crazy as it may seem—reveals humanity’s beautiful innate desire to connect with other people, regardless whether they know each other for two seconds or ten years. So take a risk, touch a stranger.