Arne Svenson: Portraits / 2005

September 10 – October 8, 2005

Reception Saturday September 10th 5-8pm.

Western Project is proud to present a new body of work by New York photographer, Arne Svenson. The Portraits are large format silver gelatin prints of forensic facial reconstruction sculptures by Frank Bender of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Gloria Nusse of Mill Valley, California.  Originally, these sculptures were commissioned by law enforcement agencies to determine the identity of victims involved in violent crimes. Svenson has continued the themes in his work – the reconstruction of identities – this time with a walloping emotional tone. The artist spent three years researching, photographing, and re-photographing the sculptures to achieve a set of empathetic images.

The sculptures themselves are constructed with bone, clay, fiberglass, statistical averages and the intuition of the forensic artist, into a likeness of the unidentified subjects. What Svenson has photographed are images of the forgotten. The photographs are an homage to the unidentifiable – from the mass graves of Juarez, Mexico to hometown USA neighborhoods. These pictures speak of lost members of our families, communities and culture. They question the nature of violence and aggression in contemporary society while portraying the willful human spirit. Though seemingly anonymous, each picture provokes memories; perhaps friends or relatives, implying a connection, primal or genetic, of the extended human family.

Svenson’s body of work includes the books, Prisoners, published in 1997, Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863), published in 2003, and the newly released Mrs. Ballard’s Parrots, as well as photos from the Mutter Museum of Pathology, and Las Vegas, Nevada. He is the recipient of the 2005 James D. Phelan Art Award in Photography.