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Merry Alpern, dirty windows

While the world’s eyes remain transfixed on the exchange on Wall Street’s trading floor, photographer Merry Alpern spent the entire freezing cold winter of 1993-1994 hidden in a friend’s loft, spying with her camera on the dingy bathroom of an after-hours sex club in the Financial District. The stunning results of her sociological espionage reveal the hidden underbelly of life on Wall Street. The grainy black and white images seem both forensic and artistic, strangely beautiful glances of objects and body parts, as they pass for an instant into the frame of the window. The fascination comes less from their explicitness than from the secret, sleazy world they hint at: fleeting, erotic glimpses of naked flesh, a handbag, a wedding ring, the exchange of money, a condom-covered penis, lines of coke snorted off the top of a toilet.