new-york

Merry Alpern

Bonni Benrubi Gallery

In 1995, with the unexpected help of an NEA rejection, Merry Alpern became notorious for her photo series “Dirty Windows.” Even if they couldn’t resist looking, viewers were made uneasy by these voyeuristic images, secretly taken through the bathroom window of a low-rent sex club near Wall Street. For the series, Alpern hid out in a building across an air shaft, capturing blow jobs, strip teases, coke-snorting, and a host of other activities with a telephoto lens. Now she’s come out in the open, sort of, to document another form of commerce: women rifling through clothing racks, trying on bathing suits, handing over the plastic—that is, shopping. But the brisk, business-like missions of these women aren’t so far removed from the single-minded, sensual pursuits of the male figures in “Dirty Windows.” After all, if men purchase sex, at best, to relieve stress or to escape from ordinary life,

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