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Portfolio: Sivan Askayo shoots other people's laundry in her series 'Intimacy Under the Wires'


'We are all voyeurs," says Sivan Askayo – though before anyone gets offended, she is happy to sweeten this scurrilous reality check: "Photographers maybe more than others." It's a pertinent addendum given the subject of her ongoing project: shooting other people's laundry.

The 38-year-old began the series, called "Intimacy Under the Wires", quite randomly in April 2010, while holidaying in her native Israel. "I'd made plans to meet a friend at the flea market in Jaffa. While waiting for him, I wandered the quiet back streets when a woman's voice from above caught my attention. I looked up and saw her hanging her laundry from the balcony. For some, it may be an ordinary chore, but I hadn't seen that since I'd moved to Manhattan 12 years earlier."

From looking at laundry, she realised, it's possible to tell a lot about its owners. "They hang sheets, their night clothes, even their underwear for all to see."

Whenever she has travelled since, she has made sure to keep her eyes skyward for insights into different cultures. "I often say that I don't take people's portraits, but cities'," she explains of her images from London, Barcelona, Naples, Tel Aviv, Venice, Hanoi and more.

The work is intimate yet also has a sense of energy and rhythm as the breeze blows her subjects dry. Not that Askayo is always as free to shoot as the laundry is to sway. "I get awkward looks from time to time. Sometimes people come and stand next to me, trying to figure out what I'm looking at. Or there are times when people shut their windows or took their clothes from the wire."

Such is the life of a voyeur.

For more: sivanaskayo.com