Israeli Photographer Airs Your Quirky Laundry in Public

Clothes drying on the line have taken one New York-based photographer around the world for her 'Intimacy Under the Wire' project.

Sometimes, when photographer Sivan Askayo is on assignment for a magazine, she spends her free time doing something rather unusual. She searches for laundry.

It all started on a fateful April afternoon in Jaffa in 2010.

Wandering through a quiet backstreet, Askayo, 39, saw a woman hanging out laundry on her balcony and says she just had to take a picture. Since then, she has been photographing the very personal, yet very public, items that people hang out to dry.

Askayo, who grew up in Israel and is now based in New York, has snapped laundry in cities around the world. In fact, people who follow her ongoing project - named “Intimacy Under the Wire” - have alerted her to interesting laundry locations. She went to Lisbon after receiving a number of tips from fans, and others have recently urged her to go to India and Hungary. Limited edition prints from the series have recently gone on sale on the Artfully Walls website.

She has never had a problem taking a shot, she told Haaretz via email. “I don’t take pictures of people while they hang their laundry, because I know they won’t like it. One time I was shooting someone’s laundry in Florence, and she came downstairs and stood next to me to see what I was looking at. I showed her how the pictures look in my camera.”

Askayo says the project is about more than beautiful composition and freshly washed linen. “Looking at laundry seems so mundane, yet when you delve into it, you realize laundry tells of people’s intimate lives. They hang their sheets, their nightclothes, even their underwear for all to see. We would never expose these personal things if we were actually in them, would we?”

Sivan Askayo
Buenos Aires, February 2011. From Sivan Askayo's laundry series. Photo by Sivan Askayo
Sivan Askayo's laundry project. Vietnam. Photo by Sivan Askayo
Sivan Askayo's laundry project. Vietnam. Photo by Sivan Askayo
Jaffa, the photo started the project. Photo by Sivan Askayo