Artist Secretly Photographs His Neighbors In This Controversial Series

Artist Secretly Photographs His Neighbors In This Controversial Series image

Artist Secretly Photographs His Neighbors In This Controversial Series

The Neighbors is a voyeuristic peek into the daily life of apartment-dwelling Manhattanites.

Arne Svenson, a 60-year-old resident of lower Manhattan, has been watching his neighbors for some time. It's a common part of living in studio apartments. The high rise windows present both a lookout point and a stage.

Intrigued by the stories he saw behind the glass, Svenson began photographing them. The resulting series is a surreal collage of body parts and glass reflections that are just a little creepy.

“The project began when I inherited a telephoto bird-watching lens and started photographing the quotidian activity of my neighbors in the glass-walled apartment across the street from my Manhattan studio,” Svenson says.

“The subjects I photographed were unaware at the time but I was stringent about not revealing their identities. I was not photographing these people as specific, identifiable personages, but more as representations of human kind.”

Though Svenson meant no harm, two of his neighbors felt the series was a serious breech of privacy. After the photos went on display in a gallery, they sued. The court ruled that the series was protected under the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

"I don't photograph anything salacious or demeaning," Svenson's says of his work. "I am not photographing the residents as specific, identifiable individuals, but as representations of humankind."

“My overall intent was always to capture the moments that define our humanness at the most basic level and I felt the only true way to do this was if the subject was unaware of my camera’s presence."

“If I had staged these domestic scenes as a collaborative project with the subjects I don’t think I ever would have been able to capture the visual serendipity and unexpected nuances of expressive non-movement.”

What do you think? Should Svenson's series be treated as art or a creepy breech of privacy?

Via Its Nice That

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