“In every interview I have seen, Mr. Arnade emphasizes the sacrifices he has made for his subjects: giving them $10 to buy heroin; taking them to a detox appointment; even showing prostitutes the stars through his telescope. In one interview he laments that he must sell his multimillion-dollar home in Brooklyn Heights so he can continue to photograph prostitutes and drug addicts: “I’m earning no money, and I’m about to sell my house and move upstate so I can keep doing this.” Lamenting a multi-million dollar real estate deal to continue photographing women who perform oral sex for $10 bespeaks an astonishing level of self-involvement.
Another way to look at it is this: On the backs of these women, Mr. Arnade has gone from faceless Wall Street banker to no small degree of fame; he has an army of followers; his work is published around the world; he sits on panels with respected photographers. To paraphrase JFK, it’s not what Mr. Arnade has done for poor prostitutes and drug addicts, it’s what poor prostitutes and drug addicts have done for Mr. Arnade’s renown.
Finally, and at its root, Mr. Arnade’s work is about power. His photographic “project” utilizes naked women because he has power over the women—power in the form of money to gain access, power to portray them in vulnerable and demeaning positions, power to publish these photos to further his reputation and following.”