Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ars gratia artis

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.
~Arne Svenson

If you want to peep in windows, better bring a camera.

New York Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower ruled that a family's right to privacy "yields to an artist's protections under the First Amendment". 

The Foster's brought suit after discovering photo's of their children taken through their apartment windows in a newspaper article about a showing of the artist Arne Svenson's The Neighbors at the Julie Saul Gallery in Chelsea.  The Foster's claimed in their suit that the 

“Plaintiffs now fear that they must keep their shades drawn at all hours of the day in order to avoid telephoto photography by a neighbour (sic)”

Not that objectionable?

I don't find the imagery, at least what I've seen of it, in The Neighbors all that objectionable.  The people in the images are not readily identifiable, although they may be identifiable to the subjects due to the surroundings... "hey that's my rocking chair"!

Other artists have exhibited work that is far more intrusive,  Michele Iversen's Night Surveillance series is far more in your face, both literally and figuratively. 

What do you think?

I believe Svenson's work is done with taste and does show a respect for the privacy of its subjects.  It should also be noted that Svenson agreed to remove the pictures of the plaintiff's children from the exhibit before they sued.  On the other hand, I can also understand the plaintiff's concern as to what other pictures did he take that may not have been fit for exhibit.

No comments: