Close Your Curtains!

Written by Austin Klein Photographer Arne Svenson’s series entitled The Neighbors on display at the Julie Saul gallery has recently been the rampant subject of scrutiny on headlines throughout the country. The series features images of anonymous and faceless characters that are, to quote Svenson, “representations of humankind” (CNN). These “representations of humankind” happen to be the photographer’s neighbors.

While the Julie Saul gallery has taken the utmost consideration in not revealing the address and names of the subjects of The Neighbors, Martha and Matthew Foster have done otherwise. The Fosters reside at 475 Greenwich Street, which sits directly across from Arne Svensons’s place of residence. Some time ago, the photographer began photographing the occupants of this adjacent building from his own home. The Fosters have now filed a formal complaint regarding this photographic series.

The matter brought into focus here is one of civil rights and privacy. However, Selim Algar from the New York Post advises that “experts in privacy law said the residents will have more luck in a civil case rather than a misdemeanor criminal proceeding, because their faces aren’t fully visible.

Legalese aside, the real questions being brought forward by the Foster’s complaint are what constitutes a portrait or picture of an individual, are the subjects identifiable, and how much privacy do New York City residents in general receive?

The solution for these misguided individuals is to invest in a home more suited to their desires, a home with reflective windows. If you open your windows to see the world, the world sees you, and some of  your visual private matters become public. When an individual puts the interior of his or her home on public display, he or she must expect that the images snapped shortly by the eye or permanently by the camera exist in the public domain.

Image Courtesy of the Julie Saul Gallery 

Arne Svenson The Neighbors

At Julie Saul From May 9- June 29, 2013


New York Indian Film Festival 2013 - The Only Real Game,(2012) Directed by Mirra Bank. Winner of Best Documentary at NYIFF 2013.