A man asleep with his back to the window. A Boston terrier staring out into the distance. A ghostlike woman in a white trench coat, her face veiled behind the curtain drapes. Arne Svenson would once gaze out of his apartment window at the New York sky. But when his view became obscured by the newly built Zinc building across the street, his curious eye was instead drawn to the on goings of its faceless residents in the privacy of their own homes, unaware of Svenson’s watchful eyes and lens.
Framed by the rectangular windowpanes mosaicked against the face of the building, his series of photographs The Neighbors conveys the unobserved nuances of the residents’ daily lives. In Svenson’s words, it is “life at its most basic” and “life at its most beautiful”. Svenson finds beauty in the ordinary. He captures the moments of life that almost always go unnoticed. The play of light through the glass, the outline in the shadows. Call it an invasion of privacy but the figures remain unidentifiable making them mere reflections and representations of 21st Century New Yorkers and of humankind as a whole.
There is something surreal about his images. Almost tranquil. The pictures seem to have a veneer characteristic of paintings, possibly thanks to the bird watching camera used for the series. There is a strange sense of irony there: maybe if the building had not been built, replacing his view of the sky, he would be photographing the birds outside his window instead…