There are no ifs or ands to the photos taken by New York City artist Arne Svenson but there’s at least one but — butt, more properly — and its owner is displeased at being so immortalized.
The Associated Press reports that Svenson snapped the images of residents of a glass-walled luxury apartment building across the street from his own through (one hopes) a rear window. The artist was careful to obscure the subjects’ faces, or avoid showing them altogether.
The subjects are nevertheless outraged that their images, photographed without their knowledge or consent are now on display — and for sale — in a Manhattan gallery.
One photo shows a barefooted woman on her hands in knees, her posterior thrust in the air. Another is of a couple in bathrobes, their feet touching beneath a table, while a third depicts a man in jeans and a T-shirt, lying on his side, napping. There is no nudity.
Svenson’s show, titled “The Neighbors,” opened last Saturday at the Julie Saul Gallery in Chelsea, where about a dozen large prints are on sale for as much as $7,500. The exhibit is drawing attention, but not because of the quality of the work so much as for the manner in which it was made.
Michelle Sylvester, a resident of the building from which Svenson culled his collection photos, said, “I don’t feel it’s a violation in a legal sense, but in a New York, personal sense there was a line crossed.”
But Svenson defends his work. “I think there’s an understanding that when you live here with glass windows, there will be straying eyes but it feels different with someone who has a camera,” adding:
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.
But does the law agree with his assessment? Responding to an email circulating among the building’s owners and renters this week, suggesting that legal action might be afoot, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel said the issue comes down to context:
The question for the person who’s suing is, if you’re not identifiable, then where’s the loss of privacy? These issues are a sign of the times. How do you balance the right of privacy vis-à-vis the right of artistic expression?
- German museum’s ‘Jew in the box’ exhibit stirs passions
- University displays billboard-sized naked vaginas in pro-abortion exhibit
- Rare newsreel footage shows Hindenburg disaster in breathtaking detail
- China’s state-owned newspaper suppressing jokes in re its phallic new headquarters
- ‘Piss Christ’ returns to New York along with ‘Piss Moses’ (Video)
- NZ couple banned from naming their child Anal
- Detroit mom objects to reading of Anne Frank’s diary as too ‘pornographic’
- Artwork using artist’s sperm banned as potential health hazard
- NYC exhibit features works painted with artist’s own blood (Video)
- The vagina monolith: Suggestive sculpture under wraps at Wasilla High School
- NYC art exhibit features unwashed OWS T-shirts
- CO woman rubs naked butt, urinates on $30 million painting
- Depiction of ant-covered Jesus sparks controversy at Brooklyn Museum
- Smithsonian gathering OWS signs for taxpayer-funded exhibit (Updated)
- CT high school play that includes gay kiss creates furor
- Smithsonian exhibit for holiday season to include ant-covered crucified Jesus
- Models in naked art exhibit at MOMA complain of getting groped