A Play on Voyeurism

Hyemi Cho’s portraits peek out of the windows of neighboring apartment buildings and playfully engage High Line visitors. Photo by Meg Kinney.

High Line visitors are often surprised to see smiling faces gazing back at them, and even waving, from the windows of neighboring buildings toward the northern terminus of the park. After the initial double-take, it’s easy to realize that these amusing locals are not flesh-and-blood people, but rather a playful ruse.

Artist and Chelsea resident Hyemi Cho has an apartment that overlooks the new section of the High Line, which opened in June, 2011. Cho was treated to some amazing views of the park, but the shy artist was apprehensive at first to her new-found proximity to a bustling public space. She channeled those feelings into a painting of herself peeking cautiously around the edge of a curtain, which she placed in her apartment window.

Cho was pleasantly surprised at the amused reaction of High Line visitors—many people stopped to take photos, laugh, and wave back. These positive interactions, including times where Cho herself would wave to visitors, led her to expand the project.

“At least five times a day I peek out,” Cho told The Atlantic Cities, “And people are looking back at me. Now I don’t feel isolated anymore.”

Recruiting other neighbors, Cho created a series of portraits—a smiling shirtless man, a woman waving, a little girl with cookies—all peering out of their windows at visitors on the High Line.


Cho’s first solo exhibition at the Nancy Margolis Gallery will kick off with an artist reception Thursday, January 26, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM, and will be on view until Saturday, February 25. Learn more about the exhibition.

You can also look forward to seeing Cho’s paintings along the High Line again following the exhibition.

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