CENTREFOLD / Through the keyhole darkly: Sivan Lewin exhibition walks the line between voyeurism and violation

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Sivan Lewin's large-format colour photographs survey the private space of the home from the perspective of an intruder-voyeur. Comfortable interiors shot from the darkness of the street evoke the urban menace of the unseen threat, and the paranoia of surveillance-obsessed home-owners. We cannot be sure whether her subjects are potential victims of crime, targets of obsessive desire, or simply the random objects of idle curiosity.

In other images the camera steals indoors, but remains excluded from the intimacy of those who live there. Lewin spies on people watching TV or staring into space, people who are isolated and lonely: the safe haven of home cannot compensate for their feelings of alienation. Ironically, they share the outsider status of the voyeur.

The pictures represent the dark side of our Through the Keyhole mentality, echoing Edward Hopper and the film Sliver rather than Loyd Grossman. They play with our natural curiosity about strangers, with the irresistible impulse to peer in through the lit windows of their private lives, evaluating them and comparing them with our own, but they also suggest that the line between voyeurism and violation is a fine one.

Lewin, who won last year's John Kobal Award for her family portrait based on Velazquez's Las Meninas, is fascinated both by the act of viewing and by our tendency to believe what we see. 'Working in the grey area between documentary photography and the constructed image allows me to combine the believability of reality with the control of constructing images that convey emotional meanings more precisely. Ultimately, Lewin has the last laugh, because more than anything else her images question our own credulity.

11am-7pm Tue-Sat to 25 Jun, Photographers' Gallery, Gt Newport St, WC2 (071-831 1772)

(Photograph omitted)