Photographer Takes Secret Photos of Neighbors for Public Art Project

A Tribeca photographer has come under fire for taking clandestine photos of his neighbors and making them available for public consumption through a Chelsea art gallery without the consent of his subjects.

At Arne Svenson's Julie Saul Gallery exhibition, aptly titled "The Neighbors," the 60-year-old artist sells prints of his work for as much as $7,500.

The Associated Press describes some of the images on display:

In one photo, a woman is on all fours, presumably picking something up, her posterior pressed against a glass window. Another photo shows a couple in bathrobes, their feet touching beneath a table. And there is one of a man, in jeans and a T-shirt, lying on his side as he takes a nap.

Another photo shows young children being carried to bed, and residents of the Zinc Building — a glass-walled luxury loft complex across the street from Svenson — are livid.

"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. Said another resident, "If he’s waiting there for hours with his camera, who knows what kind of footage he has."

For his part, Svenson remains unapologetic.

In a statement released through the galley, he says the Zinc Building tenants have brought this invasion of privacy on themselves.

"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," Svenson says. "The Neighbors don’t know they are being photographed; I carefully shoot from the shadows of my home into theirs."

He goes on to compare his actions to birdwatching.

Svenson's birds, meanwhile, are considering taking legal action against him.

However, at least one legal expert told the AP that they may have a fight in front of them since not of the neighbors' faces are visible in the photos, making them virtually unidentifiable.

[photo via AP]