Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon:
“The Neighbors,” currently on display at the Julie Saul Gallery in Chelsea, is, at first glance, a quiet, painterly collection of intimate yet semi-abstract images. A seemingly nude male figure stands illuminated behind a curtain. A woman sits serenely, holding a menacing pair of scissors. A lone figure naps on a couch. A figure in a green dress crouches on the floor, her rear pressed close to the glass.
None of the photos show the subject’s faces, but the residents of the luxury condo across the street from [artist Arne] Svenson are understandably none too thrilled to see their asses turned into artwork — that’s fetching up at up to $7,500 a print, all without their consent.
This is something I constantly question when I’m making work: the difference between implicit and explicit consent. Anything visible within a public realm is typically fair game, but it’s uncomfortable. Anything on Instagram that’s public is, in theory, alright to appropriate (provided you follow their terms of service, naturally), but is that fair to the subjects? Are public tweets of private matters okay to more widely broadcast? Consider the @NeedADebitCard Twitter account, for just one example.
In these cases, it’s not a legal question, but an ethical one. In the meantime, if you live across from Svenson, you might want to close your blinds. Via Dave Pell