From the observation deck, visitors to the Tate Modern can peep into the luxury apartments of NEO Bankside. Four residents have filed a lawsuit against the museum, but artist Max Siedentopf’s sympathies do not lie with them. Instead, alongside a plaque that reads “Please respect our neighbors’ privacy,” Siedentopf installed a dozen binoculars so that visitors to the observation deck atop Tate Modern’s Switch House can do the exact opposite of that.
In a statement, Siedentopf wrote:
Each week, Tate Modern attracts over a hundred thousand visitors from all around the world to look at some of the best art in the world. However, it turns out that one of the most popular sights around the museum is not an exhibited artwork but rather, the neighboring apartments which can be seen from Tate’s viewing platform. Thousands of visitors gather in awe to take a peek inside the apartments. No other artwork on display attracts as much fascination as these open plan apartments.
It’s unclear how long the unsanctioned installation remained on display. Siedentopf told Fast Company that he left before he could see the museum’s response, but that he hopes people got to enjoy the view.
Siedentopf is not the first artist to tackle the issues of privacy and public display raised by contemporary luxury condominium architecture. In 2013, residents of a Lower Manhattan building sued photographer Arne Svenson for photographing them in their apartments without their knowledge or permission using a telephoto lens, resulting in the series “The Neighbors.” Svenson prevailed in that case and the appeal.