Merry Alpern : Dirty Windows 22/02 - 20/04/2019
Dirty Windows by American artist Merry Alpern, is the artist’s first solo European exhibition of this both controversial and celebrated series.
In the winter of 1993-94, photographer Merry Alpern visited a friend’s New York loft, situated in the Wall Street district. He led her to a back room and from his window, one floor below, she could see a tiny bathroom window from which pounded the heavy bass of nightclub music. She realized that she was looking into the bathroom of an illegal lap-dance club, where “stock-brokers and other well-to-do businessmen handed over hundreds of dollars and drugs to women in G-strings and black lace." Transfixed by the spectacle, the artist started taking pictures of what she saw, using a fast black and white film that gave the photos a peep-show quality.
In 1994 she submitted the series to the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) only to find her work, along with that of co-candidates Andres Serrano, and Barbara DeGenevieve, rejected and vilified by conservatives who sought to undermine the NEA, creating a huge debate that paradoxically served to promote the work. Today, works from ‘Dirty Windows’ feature in major private and museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Modern Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Works from the series were exhibited in 1996 at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, in a group exhibition entitled ‘By Night’, and, more recently, were included in the exhibition ‘Public, Private, Secret’ at the ICP Museum in New York from June 2016 to January 8, 2017.
Taken before the emergence of social media and its accompanying exhibitionism, these poetic and gritty images of the underbelly of New York remain as pertinent as ever, with the multiple questions they raise about the sexual exploitation of women, consumerism, power, finance, surveillance and the female gaze. Galerie Miranda will present selected vintage prints from the series.
Merry Alpern is a contemporary American photographer known for her controversial oeuvre and utilization of surveillance photography. Born on March 15, 1955 in New York, NY, Alpern studied sociology at Grinnell College in Iowa, but returned to New York before graduating in order to pursue photography. In 1999, following the ‘Dirty Windows’ series, Merry Alpern produced the series ‘Shopping’, whereby, equipped with a tiny surveillance camera and a video camcorder hidden in her discreetly perforated purse, Alpern wandered through department stores, malls, and fitting rooms., seeking to capture and understand the obsessive quest – by both herself and by other women shoppers - for the ultimate purchase. Today, her works are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among others. Alpern currently lives and works in New Brooklyn, NY.