Residents of a New York City apartment building are up in arms over an exhibition of candid photographs one of their neighbors took of them, without their knowledge or permission.
A gallery show — “The Neighbors” — of the pictures taken surreptitiously by American photographer Arne Svenson opened last week at the Julie Saul Gallery in lower Manhattan.
The images were taken by Svenson through the windows of his apartment building in lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, as he trained his lens on his on his unsuspecting neighbors.
“He was intrigued not only by the implied stories within the frame of the glass but also by the play of light upon the subjects, the shadows, the framing of the structure,” the statement said, adding that he “doesn’t photograph anything salacious or demeaning” and is “careful not to reveal identities.”
“Svenson is not photographing the people as specific, identifiable individuals, more as representations of humankind, of us,” the Chelsea gallery said.
It called the photo series “social documentation in a very rarefied environment.”
But Svenson’s subjects strongly disagreed, saying that his picture-taking violated their privacy.
Some said they also resented that he snapped pictures of them with their young children, making the intrusion into their lives even worse.
“This is about kids. If he’s waiting there for hours with his camera, who knows what kind of footage he has. I can recognize items from my daughter’s bedroom,” one mother told the New York Post.
A gallery spokeswoman said that the pictures go for between $6,200 and $8,400, and that some of the images have already been sold.
They show Svenson’s neighbors, unawares, in various candid poses — bending, kneeling, carrying children.
A press release on the gallery’s website said Svenson was intrigued by the idea of capturing “the daily activities of his downtown Manhattan neighbors as seen through his windows into theirs.”