Last call to indulge your voyeuristic compulsion to stare at your neighbors through their windows — and everyone is OK with this.
Well, the famous — some would say infamous — series of photographs by Arne Svenson, allowing you to peer through apartment windows of “The Neighbors,” are from a New York community, not yours.
But the subjects, currently at Denver’s fun, approachable and affordable Museum of Contemporary Art in LoDo, are seen going about their lives just on the other side of a plate of glass. These barely anonymous people are everyone you know. The exhibit created a huge controversy when it opened in New York in 2013, spotlighting the ethereal line between what is and isn’t private, even when you can plainly see it from a place as public as a sidewalk or the window of an adjacent building. Some of the photograph subjects are seen sleeping, cleaning, bending, eating and doing things few would feel comfortable about knowing they were being watched while they did it.
The photographs are provocative for several reasons, mostly because they tend to be suggestive. It’s just a nudge that in real life would reflexively make you turn away if you were walking by that window. But here, well, there are no restrictions. The exhibition is in a gallery, where you are invited to stare not just as long as you want, but almost as long as you can take, and that’s no accident.
Each piece in the the show is a marvel of composition, tone and target. The photographs drive home the point of who we really are when we think we’re unseen. The show begs the question of where the line of propriety and privacy should be drawn when we’re inside our homes and visible to people outside, and then the show goes even further by considering whether a glance should be treated differently than a photographic recording. By the time you’ve seen the more than 20 photographs in the series, you’ll agree that there are no easy or clear answers here.
Svenson won an invasion of privacy lawsuit launched against him by subjects of the photographs, but that only settled legal questions.
MCA curator Nora Burnett Abrams creates a long, luxurious look at ourselves and our neighbors. It’s been so tempting that the exhibit has been held over until June 12. Go now, however, so you can leave time to go back, because you know you will.
Also currently at the museum is a gushing tribute to the masterful creations of Brian Bress: “Make Your Own Friends.”
Each piece in the exhibit of a wide range of sculptures, paper and video works is enthralling. The sculptures are compelling with their mocking sense of simplicity and almost juvenile sensibility. But the comic, somewhat folk-like charm shadows an almost discomfiting depth in each piece. There appears real life, where there shouldn’t be. The sculptures and framed works are attractive, eliciting long, wondrous gazes, but the video works by Bress are riveting, some more than others.
Built from video in high-definition video and monitors, each piece is a stunning marvel of peculiar animation.
Each of Bress’ “friends” offer an amusing and somehow addicting relationship, making it difficult to leave one piece for the next.
His best friend? No doubt that’s got to be White Walker. Meet your new “friends” at MCA through July 3.
Also in the gallery are alluring exhibits by Denver artists Laura Shill, and Lanny DeVuono. MCA offers some of Shill’s dreamy and large-as-life upholstery sculpture, as well as photographs. In addition, there’s an extensive array of Lanny DeVuono’s other-world depictions in various media.
IF YOU GO
• MCA Denver is at 1485 Delgany St. on the corner of 15th Street and Delgany, in Lower Downtwon Denver. Open Tuesday through Thursday noon to 7 p.m., Friday noon to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.
• Admission is $8 for adults, and $5 after 5 p.m. Students, seniors and military members are $5. Children and teenagers 18 and under are free. Call 303-298-7554 or visit www.mcadenver.org.