A Beautiful Invasion of Privacy: What?

January 7, 2021


What are normal boundaries? In this day and age, there’s a massive blurred space between what is comfortable and what is not. On one hand, many people are cramped in their houses with several family members 24/7. On the other hand, 6 feet minimum is needed to be comfortable because of social distancing.

A series of photos taken by Jeff Mermelstein brings back memories from crowded classrooms and packed transportation vehicles; his photos are of extremely personal (but anonymous) messages between strangers and are compiled in a book called #nyc.

Many may question this kind of art because it’s a literal invasion of personal space, but Jeff Mermelstein thinks otherwise. As a street photographer and an artist in general, he aims to create content that leaves the viewers with a sense of wonder or newfound amazement. These seemingly invasive messages and the concept as a whole may appear uncomfortable, but these images bring a realization that each human has their own unique experiences, relationships, and banter.

Furthermore, they take a peek at either a stranger’s deepest darkest secrets or their most obscure inside jokes. At first glance, a majority may become unsettled at the fact that someone may have taken a picture of their personal messages and exposed them. However, over time, these strangely eerie messages become endearing, which can bring a whimsical touch to the lives of those who view them.

Unconventional art like this reminds us to value our now seldom interactions and experiences such as talking to strangers or riding the subways and buses. Until it is possible to ride crowded buses, sit in packed classrooms, and walk in the hallways on summer days again, #nyc acts as a reminder of the familiar feeling of uncomfortable, yet cozy rides of life.

Check out some page samples of Jeff Mermelstein’s work here: https://mackbooks.co.uk/products/nyc

And Readers, feel free to let us know in the comments what you think about this type of street photography.


Works Cited

Palumbo, Jacqui. “A Photographer Secretly Snapped Strangers’ Text Messages and Turned Them into Art.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 Jan. 2021, www.cnn.com/style/article/jeff-mermelstein-photographs-nyc-text-messages/index.html.



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