Gail Albert-Halaban, who lives and works in New York, began photographing when she was 6, when she made a camera for her first grade science fair. She holds an MFA from Yale University.
Her art explores the tension between public and private life, what is seen by all, and what is hidden. The series Out My Window is a collection of images taken through and into windows in New York City, she acknowledges unspoken voyeurism and exhibitionism, tells us to admit we all do it, and then pushes us to confront the hope, isolation and other emotions that lie behind the gaze.
The pictures seem intrusive, but are nearly all posed. The residents are collaborators and their apartments are lit specifically to make these pictures, which explore a defining urban experience: becoming secretly familiar with the neighbors’ most intimate moments.
In the end, the process of producing this series of images is a kind of performance that serves as a remedy for the symptoms that they portray: by ringing on doorbells, Albert-Halaban helps bring anonymous neighbors into each others’ lives. The set-up of the camera and the staging of the resultant photograph become an occasion for new friendships.
Gail Albert Halaban’s Out My Window is both a penetrating exploration of modern community and a group of moving and beautiful photographs. The project started when she moved to New York from Los Angeles. In an effort to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation, she began to use her art as a way of connecting with her neighbors. She starts by explaining her work to potential participants and asking for their involvement. If they agree, Albert Halaban facilitates communication among the neighbors and arranges to photograph one from the window of the other. In this way, Albert Halaban employs photography as a form of social engagement. For despite platitudes about modern technology making the world a smaller place, this same virtual environment can also result in feelings of isolation and extreme self-absorption. By connecting strangers who live across the street from each other, Albert Halaban’s expertly composed, beautifully rendered, large-scale photographs encourage viewers to take a fresh look at the people they see every day.
The idea behind this long and intense project, entitled Out of My Window, occured to this New York photographer many years ago, during one of those intimate moments mothers experience while nursing as she looked out the window of her apartment one night.
Peering over the edge of an ornate building lining the Avenida de Mayo, Gail Albert Halaban trains her lens on the window of the opposite building. Below her, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares pulses with commuters in motion, cars honk in the late afternoon swell, yet with the orange haze of dusk setting in behind her, the photographer snaps her subject with silent conviction.
The Guardian reviews Gail Albert Halaban's "Original Hoppers" series and examines the similarities between Edward Hopper and the photographer herself.
John Leland of the New York Times LENS blog interviews Halaban to discover her inspiration for "Out My Window" series.
Gail Albert Halaban gets high praise from NY Magazine in August 27th's edition of "The Approval Matrix".