Residents of a luxury building in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City are quite upset over the recent news that an art exhibit will be featuring photos, shot of them, through their house windows. How would you feel if you heard a photograph of you sleeping or bending over in your house is now part of an art show and selling for thousands of dollars? Would you feel like your private space was violated? Is this even legal? Read on to learn more about the photos and the legality surrounding the whole issue.
Photographer Arne Svenson started a project called "The Neighbors" which entailed him hanging out behind the curtains of his second story building and secretly shooting photos of his neighbors across the street through their windows. The photographs, which don't show any faces, are now being sold for up to $7,500 each at the Julie Saul Gallery. The residents of the luxury penthouses heard about the display of photos and are now fuming. Some residents have pointed out that there are photos of children in the display which means Svenson could have been looking through the window for sometime with his telephoto lens invading their children's very private space.
According to the New York Post, one parent Clifford Finn said, "A grown man should not be able to photograph kids in their rooms with a telephoto lens. You can argue artistic license all you want, but that’s really the issue here. I’m sorry, but I’m really bothered by this.” The photographer Svenson is unapologetic and feels he has every right to do what he would like. In a statement about the work Svenson said, "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. The Neighbors don’t know they are being photographed; I carefully shoot from the shadows of my home into theirs. I am not unlike the birder, quietly waiting for hours, watching for the flutter of a hand or the movement of a curtain as an indication that there is life within."
The New York Post talked with experts in privacy law that have said because the photos do not show any full faces there is likely no misdemeanor criminal case that could be brought up against Svenson and that the residents would probably have more luck filing a civil case instead. So what do you all think about this? How would you feel if you saw a photographer across the street with his 400mm lens pointed into your window? Even though the photos he has released do not show full faces, who is to tell what other photos Svenson might have secretly snapped. Some might argue that if the residents want privacy they should close their window curtains, but I feel that we should not have to do that while in our own homes. Let me know how you feel in the comments below.
Photographs by Arne Svenson/Julie Saul Gallery