Controversial they may be but I just love the images from Arne Svenson‘s series ‘The Neighbors’. Reminiscent of L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, the character in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window; the photographer views his neighbours through a camera lens in their homes across the street.
Not being the subject of his images, it’s difficult for me to imagine how I’d personally feel about privacy issues but looking at his published work, all the images I’ve seen are skillfully and beautifully crafted, sensitive, intimate, discrete and pretty anonymous. There is nothing in any of the images I’ve seen that could not be openly viewed in a densely populated city like New York.
Yes, I appreciate the photographs are the result of possibly many hours of looking through his lens, through a neighbours window and possibly being privy to much more than we’ve seen in his exhibited work. I have to question these ethics. However; densely populated environments are ‘fish bowls’ and choosing to live there is surely a lifestyle choice. The responsibility for privacy in this instance must surely lie with the neighbours rather than with the photographer.
Right’s Upheld in Court
Without dismissing the morality, the voyeurism and the ethics of how the work was created, I’m glad the judge upheld Svenson’s right to photograph the unsuspecting neighbours. It’s this very candid nature of the shots and how they’ve been cropped that gives them such beautiful intimacy.
Billed as a “voyeuristic and investigative social documentation in a very rarified environment” ‘The Neighbors’ series was exhibited in June 2013 in the Julie Saul Gallery, New York.
Photographs from the series is also published on his website, take a little time to view them and let us know what you think.
Images used under a commons license courtesy of Wikimedia