Tate Modern’s Angry Neighbors Are Not Giving Up Their Fight Against Museum Visitors Peeping Into Their Apartments

A group of residents of the neighboring apartment block is appealing a lawsuit against the museum.

Max Siedentopf, Please respect our neighbours’ privacy (2018). Courtesy the artist.

Angry neighbors of London’s Tate Modern are appealing a High Court ruling that dismissed their efforts to shut down the gallery’s 10th floor viewing platform, which allows visitors to see into their high-end apartments.

In 2017, five occupants of the luxury apartment block Neo Bankside sued the Board of Trustees of the Tate for creating a nuisance and breaching their privacy.

The gallery’s viewing platform is a popular tourist attraction, offering panoramic views of London and the Thames River. Despite signs politely asking visitors to “please respect our neighbours’ privacy,” visitors also often take advantage of the vista point to peer into the goings-on of the chic designer apartments next door. (The silent battle between the nosy parkers and the furious neighbors even inspired artist Max Siedentopf to install binoculars on Tate’s balcony, a guerrilla artwork designed to highlight the absurdity of the situation.)

After a long legal battle, a judge dismissed the neighbors’ bid to shut down the high-rise viewing platform last February, denying that the gallery was creating a legal “nuisance.” The judge, Justice Anthony Mann, found that the Tate was not “making an unreasonable use of its land” and pointed out that the design of the flats, which include floor-to-ceiling glass windows, made them abnormally vulnerable to privacy invasions. He suggested that the neighbors could protect their privacy the old-fashioned way: by investing in some curtains.

Undeterred, the residents have now taken their fight to the Court of Appeal, alleging that the High Court justice was mistaken in his ruling. Their lawyer is arguing that because the judge found that the viewing gallery provided an “intrusive and material intrusion to their living accommodation,” he should have granted the injunction against Tate.

Lawyers for the Tate’s Board of Trustees are arguing that the decision of the High Court judge should stand. Artnet News reached out to the gallery for comment but did not immediately hear back.

A ruling on the appeal will be made at a later date.

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