Residents at a luxury TriBeCa apartment block in Lower Manhattan are very furious after discovering that artist Arne Svenson, who is their neighbor at a nearby building, has secretly been taking their photographs to exhibit and sell.
Arne Svenson freely admits to secretly photographing his neighbors at the exclusive 475 Greenwich St apartment block in TriBeCa, but claims he hasn’t done anything wrong.
His photographs are careful not to show anyone’s face in full, but they do show the residents engaged in a wide range of intimate and private activities including cleaning, taking a nap, watching television and carrying their sleeping kids to bed.
The photographs are currently on display at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York as part of an exhibition called The Neighbors which opened on Saturday.
Prints are available to buy for up to $7,500 and in sizes up to 5 feet by 2 feet.
Residents of the Greenwich Street building – where penthouses fetch up to $6 million – are furious over what they see as an invasion of privacy and are concerned about the safety of their children.
“A grown man should not be able to photograph kids in their rooms with a telephoto lens,” resident Clifford Finn told the New York Post.
“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.”
A number of residents who are featured in the exhibition are understood to be considering legal action. Although they’ve been advised the may have better luck in a civil case rather than a misdemeanor criminal proceeding because their faces aren’t fully visible.
Arne Svenson, 60, who lives on the second floor of the nearby 125 Watt St building, is unapologetic.
“For my subjects, there is no question of privacy,” he said in a statement accompanying the exhibit.
“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 a movement of a curtain as an indication that there is life within.”
Arne Svenson, whose previous exhibitions have included photos of sock puppets, was inspired to do this latest project after he inherited a bird watching telephoto lens from a friend.