Fun fact: I am absolutely terrified of being alone in a room with windows that have open blinds at night. Seriously, I have nightmares about it all the time and it is exactly why I am so glad my present room faces an alleyway. Now, I have yet another reason to be extra afraid: some New York City photographer named Arne Svenson has been taking photos of his neighbors and putting them in a public art show. Oh, and selling them. All without their permission.
Svenson, a photographer based out of Tribeca, has an exhibition up right now called “The Neighbors” at the Julie Saul Gallery. It is called “The Neighbors” because it consists of photos he took of his neighbors from his window with a telephoto lens (you know, the kind that people are always using in spy movies and when teenage boys are creeping on women across the street?). The gallery’s site describes his work as such:
Svenson has turned outward from his usual studio based practice to study the daily activities of his downtown Manhattan neighbors as seen through his windows into theirs… His projects are almost always instigated by an external or random experience which brings new objects or equipment into his life- in this case he inherited a bird watching telephoto lens from a friend.
The grid structure of the windows frame the quotidian activities of the neighbors, forming images which are puzzling, endearing, theatrical and often seem to mimic art history, from Delacroix to Vermeer.
Voyeuristic and investigative, The Neighbors is social documentation in a very rarified environment. The large color prints have been cropped to various orientations and sizes to condense and focus the action.
Well, at least they admit it’s voyeuristic. But is it also exploitive? Well, yes, because Svenson is presently selling prints of his work for up to $7,500. According to the Associate Press, the photos are as creepy as they sound.
In one photo, a woman is on all fours, presumably picking something up, her posterior pressed against a glass window. Another photo shows a couple in bathrobes, their feet touching beneath a table. And there is one of a man, in jeans and a T-shirt, lying on his side as he takes a nap.
You know, bending over to pick something up is awkward enough; the idea that somebody is photographing you doing so in order to show your derriere to as many peopel as possible is absolutely awful.
Oh, and Svenson’s response? He DGAF.
“For my subjects there is no question of privacy; they are performing behind a transparent scrim on a stage of their own creation with the curtain raised high,” Svenson says. “The Neighbors don’t know they are being photographed; I carefully shoot from the shadows of my home into theirs.”
Lovely! A megalomaniac who believes he has the right to shoot people who are “on a stage of their own creation,” since everybody is obviously existing as dancing puppets for his amusement and financial gain.
You know, Artists of the World, you guys need to minimize support of assholes like this. They’re giving you all a bad, creepy, nonconsensual name.