Photographs: Arne Svenson / Interview Zan Boag
Photographs: Arne Svenson / Interview Zan Boag
Photographs: Arne Svenson / Interview Zan Boag
11th year Anniversary Exhibition
Ron Athey / Josh Bolin / Daniel Brice / Thomas Burke / Carole Caroompas / Cole Case / Alec Egan / Samantha Fields / Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose / Tim Forcum / Eric Freeman / Sush Machida Gaikotsu / Margaret Griffith / Dion Johnson / Ali Kheradyar / Patrick Lee / Joe Lloyd / Zachari Logan / Bob Mizer / Matthew Penkala / Nancy Riegelman / Chad Robertson / Joe Schmelzer / Nicolas Shake / Aaron Sheppard / Arne Svenson / Christian Tedeschi / Tom of Finland / Mark Dean Veca / Wayne White / Jessica Wimbley
Western Project proudly presents our 11th Year Anniversary Exhibition marking a decade and a year of programming. As one of the pioneer galleries of the Culver City arts district, the show will include gallery artists and some special guests; each an irregular, unruly and often impolite force of nature, all burdened with the disease of individual thinking and a call to find a greater depth of human experience. We celebrate with abandon and humor, knowing our job is yet unfinished.
Arne Svenson: The NeighborsWestern Project, Los Angeles By Catherine Wagley 02/01/2013
See original artilce on PHOTOGRAPH website HERE
In Rear Window, Hitchcock’s Cold War era film about a holed-up man who starts watching his neighbors because he can and then becomes too captivated and paranoid by what he sees to stop, it matters that Jimmy Stewart’s character is a photographer. He has an eye for looking already, and so the fact that his voyeurism is, from the film’s start to finish, aesthetically adept makes sense. The results of photographer Arne Svenson’s recent foray into voyeurism, on view through February 9 at Western Project in Culver City, are similarly adept, sometimes lyrical. They look the way a Milan Kundera novel sounds – removed and hazy, melancholically preoccupied with small moments.
In one image from his Neighbors series, The Neighbors #1, you see through rain and window glass the right forearm of a woman reaching forward for something. Her left arm in the background holds a pair of scissors, and the white curtain covers the top of her face. Her deliberate mouth isn’t smiling. Her dark sleeve becomes a block of color among the other blocks of brownish and greenish grays behind her and, in the foreground, the light gray exterior wall of the building she is inside. In other images, you see the torso of a pregnant woman in a striped shirt, the legs of a breakfasting couple, a forlorn looking dog appearing through the window panes.
Had you not read the press release, you might think these were film stills from some slow-moving art-house picture. But according to Svenson, they are what resulted when he acquired a telephoto lens from a friend, a birder who recently passed away, and turned that lens to the glass-walled apartment building across the street. When you know this, the images begin to make you slightly uncomfortable in the way seeing surreptitiously shot footage and pixelated stills from surveillance cameras wouldn’t. How are you supposed to react to stunning surveillance, moments that are stolen and then impressively crafted? Should knowing beauty has dubious origins make it less beautiful? Of course, these are questions Svenson’s project doesn’t even attempt to answer, but they’re there, hovering over the work.
January 12 - February 9, 2013 [portfolio_slideshow click=lightbox]
Western Project is proud to present the third solo exhibition by New York artist, Arne Svenson. Known for his eccentric interpretations of the everyday and familiar, the artist has found new inspiration in the windows of high-rise condominiums. A social, class and aesthetic study, The Neighbors, is a subtle yet provocative body of work for our time. About his large scale photographs, Svenson writes:
For my subjects there is no question of privacy; they are performing behind a transparent scrim on a stage of their own creation with the curtain raised high.
Some time ago a birding friend passed away and I inherited his telephoto lens. Having no interest in birds, I turned to the residents of a glass-walled apartment building across the street from my studio. The Neighbors don't know they are being photographed; I carefully shoot from the shadows of my space into theirs. I am not unlike the birder, quietly waiting for hours, watching for the flutter of a hand or the movement of a curtain as an indication that there is life within.
As the Neighbors move into and out of their prosceniums, divergent narratives are created in the segmented windowpanes. Day and night, obstructed only by reflections, the patina of dust on glass and occasional pulled curtain I am at the window, waiting for those curtains to part again and for the tableaux to materialize, for the performance to begin.
Using the architectural grid structure of the condominium building, Svenson recalls Mondrian compositions with iconic imagery. His pictures play the spectrum of the intimate to the operatic; shadowed singles frozen in computer light to domestic turmoil, each a minimalist drama. Ordinary urban life is captured in classic fragments hinting at larger stories, a kind of burlesque Manet, perhaps with more sinister undertones, or absurd folly. Svenson’s pictures mirror our cultural curiosity and preoccupation with other people’s lives – think Facebook, reality television shows, etc. Voyeuristic or investigative, The Neighbors pictures are social documentation. Focused on the wealthy, with a forensic precision, they ultimately present discreet human moments, unscripted and random. Ironically, each a rare, private and natural instant in our camera obsessed world.
Svenson recently completed the solo exhibition About Face, at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. His work is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, among others. His books include: Strays (2012), Chewed (2011). Unspeakable Likeness (2010), Mrs. Ballard’s Parrots (2005), Prisoners (1997), Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863) (2003). He is the recipient of the 2008 Nancy Graves Foundation grant, and the 2005 James D. Phelan Art Award in Photography. He has shown consistently across the United States and in Europe.
Arne Svenson: "About Face" February 4 - May 9, 2012The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA
Arne Svenson, a New York photographer working in collaboration with The Warhol, created a series of portraits on view in the exhibition About Face. In February 2011, Svenson was the artist-in-residency at Pittsburgh’s Wesley Spectrum Highland, an Approve Private School for students with special needs, grades 4 – 12. Svenson’s residency, which led to this exhibition, is part of an ongoing partnership with Svenson, The Warhol, the Cognitive Psychology Department at the University of Victoria, British Colombia, and Wesley Spectrum Highland. The goal of this partnership is to improve autistic youth’s communication skills by developing and piloting activities that utilize Warhol’s portraits and the practice of contemporary portrait artists to teach facial recognition skills to students within the autism spectrum.
The exhibition features three-dimensional, large-format photographs which are fixed open at a 55 degree angle, and mounted directly the gallery walls. From one perspective the viewer sees only a neutral portrait of the student, while from the other angle one views an open spread, which reveals an expressive image of the student and an accompanying emotional motivator. Motivators range from an image of a birthday party to a spider. For Svenson, “the photo sessions with the students were not only central to the final project, but the time we spent working together became an essential component of the process and learning experience. They responded well, engaged beautifully, and, as I told each one as he or she left the studio, are the true stars of this project.” About Face is curated by Tresa Varner, curator of education and interpretation at The Warhol.
Special thanks to Linda Abraham-Braff, art teacher; and Jan Kustron, speech language pathologist, at Wesley Spectrum Highland School.
Read more at warhol.org: http://www.warhol.org/webcalendar/event.aspx?id=5343#ixzz1kc0dCgbl
May 22 – June 26, 2010
Opening reception: Saturday May 22, 6 – 8pm
Western Project is proud to present The Library, a body of new work by New York artist/photographer, Arne Svenson. For his seventh solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Svenson will present books and prints scanned from his idiosyncratic collections of newspaper clippings, magazine photos, paper towels, found diaries and books from his youth. The function of The Library is to create unexpected connections and narratives. The artist writes:
“Using disparate images taken from appropriated institutional, educational and non-fiction printed material, the pages of the 6 books in the exhibition suggest tales to be told, stories within stories. The narrative may be literal, as in the (self) reportage of Diane's Diary, or, in the case of Heroes, created by random juxtaposition and pagination decisions. In the Real Estate Ladies, the story could the subtext behind the 400 smiling faces of eager Agents. The stories are up to the viewer to create - I have provided the raw material, with a prompt here and there, but the rest is up to the reader of these books.”
The bound artist books are oversized, approximately two by three feet and contain anywhere from 55 to over 200 pages. The images are not manipulated (i.e., no Photoshop), only enlarged. The installation is designed for leisurely reading; the books lay open on a carpeted floor with gloves and a sitting pillow. The six titles are: Heroes, Diane's Diary, Language Development Level #1, Paper Towels, Real Estate Ladies, The Transformative Power of Bad Registration in The New York Times.
Regarding the The Transformative Power of Bad Registration in The New York Times, the artist writes:
“Every so often a photograph will be misprinted in The New York Times. The errors can be subtle or glaring; they can range from a slight shift of color to a complete re-arrangement of the dot-pattern, which creates the image. My interest in this phenomenon is how an unintentional misstep distorts the intentionality of the photographer, editor, etc. - how a misprint can rearrange truth and reality. Eyes slip down the face, limbs are extended, and laughter becomes tears all because somewhere a machine failed. The unintended shift of color and form change the story, the meaning of the photograph, and open it up to a wealth of additional interpretations.”
As pictures inspire stories, so do paper towels:
“While I was shopping at the Price Chopper grocery store I came across two women in the paper-goods aisle discussing art in some depth. They were going back and forth about color and form and how specific "pictures" made them feel. Curious, I looked over to see them holding rolls of paper towels and realized that they were deciding which printed pattern towel would be the best choice for their kitchen….
Rather than avoiding them for white, I began collecting illustrated paper towel sheets a few years ago. Ubiquitous in most homes, I was astounded by the cynical nostalgia of the designs - a cloying cuteness presumably put forth to comfort and sustain the paper towel user as he/she mopped up a mess. Because of this dichotomy, I realized that the whole idea of choosing a paper towel for the image is more complex than I first thought. Maybe the women in the Price Chopper were right, perhaps it is art…”
Using the images from paper towels as large prints, Svneson points to traditional Japanese scrolls, abstract and landscape painting in a minimalist language. The prints are large, up to ten feet long. Whether it is a café scene or giant frogs, the towel images suggest the surreal sensibility of Max Ernst and the pragmatic writing Gertrude Stein, turned: a towel is a towel is a towel – endless viewpoints and possibilities in its being-ness.
In Diane’s Diary, Svenson uproots the familiar and reorients the history of a found object:
“In 2001 I bought a small, 4" x 3'5" diary from a thrift store in Las Vegas. On the first page is the notation: "Championship Wrestling Autographs by Superstars..". The next page is dated, by hand, "8/15/83" and is the beginning page of a personal diary. The entries last for thirteen pages and represent only the two hand-written dates "8/15/83" and "12/27/83" - the printed calendar dates in the diary have no bearing on the actual dates of the entries.
Diane, the author of the diary, relates to it as a friend, closing some of her entries with "…see you later", or "'…til next time". She outlines her troubles with her former boyfriend Steve, her delight with new boyfriend Doug, her day in court with friend Linda, and, in the last, and only, entry on 12/27/83, her growing sense of unease with Doug. The diary ends in an ominous manner, highlighting what, in a few short pages, appears to be a very troubled life. I included Diane's Diary in this series because I wanted a literal, though anonymous and ambiguous, story amongst the subjective visual fictions of the other books. And I produced it large because I wanted her story to be more visually heroic in proportion.”
Like his earlier Sock Monkey pictures, Svenson approaches his subjects in a flat footed manner, allowing the viewer to engage on numerous levels; all is what it seems, and not necessarily as it appears. It is a generosity peculiar to mature artists. By choosing a scanner instead of a camera, he mirrors a Warholian mass production sensibility but without a cynical twist. He is fascinated by the ordinary and finds revelation in its many manifestations.. What is overlooked can be profound and what is profound can suffer bad registration – either way, there is a lesson in it.
Svenson’s work is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, among others. He is currently in the exhibition Ni Una Mas, at Drexel University, Philadelphia. His books include, Unspeakable Likeness (2010), Mrs. Ballard’s Parrots (2005), Prisoners (1997), Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863) (2003), and as well as photos from the Mutter Museum of Pathology, and Las Vegas, Nevada. He is the recipient of the 2008 Nancy Graves Foundation grant, and the 2005 James D. Phelan Art Award in Photography.
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November 7 – December 30, 2009 Opening reception Saturday November 7th 5-8pm.
Jason Adkins, Oliver Arms, Ron Athey, Tanya Batura, Heimir Björgúlfsson, Daniel Brice, Thomas Burke, Carole Caroompas, Cole Case, Exene Cervenka, Kris Chatterson, Justin Dahlberg, Michael Dee, Tom of Finland, Eric Freeman, Sush Machida Gaikotsu, Martin Gunsaullus, Ellina Kevorkian, Patrick Lee, Bob Mizer, Michael Reafsnyder, Nancy Riegelman, Chad Robertson, Joe Schmelzer, Aaron Sheppard, Arne Svneson, Vincent Valdez, Mark Dean Veca, Wayne White, Eve Wood, Yek
Western Project is pleased to present, The First Six Years, an anniversary exhibition of the gallery and its artists. Thirty one artists are included with new or recent works. The exhibition is also a celebration of the founding of the arts community in Culver City; Western Project being the third gallery to open its doors in November of 2003.
June 13 – July 18, 2009
Carole Caroompas Kaitlynn Redell Aaron Sheppard Arne Svenson Liz Young
Western Project is proud to present Tales of the Flesh, a group exhibition examining the human figure as a narrative source. Each of these five artists work with the figure/body as an origin of story telling for political, social, historical and/or erotic purposes. Carole Caroompas has used the figure for thirty years to examine issues of power and gender between men and women. Her series, Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman Who Knew Too Much, reworks our assumptions of relationships and myths in ribald and collaged imagery. Her use of the figure is theatrical, incisive and verges on the taboo. Newcomer Kaitlynn Redell cuts and reassembles rock and movie posters to illuminate our notions of ‘the exotic’ and its racist implications in inherent in Western Pop culture. Redell’s constructions are unabashedly aesthetic and covertly seduce the viewer with tales of hubris and glamour. Arne Svenson’s forensic sculpture Portraits are both haunting and alluring. His subject is the dead and forgotten, and his images are strangely elegant reminders of the unfinished stories of real lives. Also included, Svenson’s book of genetically connected eyes is a slightly lighter kind of provocation; large color images floating in a text-less format. The cliché: the eyes are the windows of the soul, is charred with the artist’s new kind of taxidermy. Liz Young’s standing wood-grained male sculpture and small blood painted portraits are interpretations of family intimacy and history. Adept with materials, Young makes each work a loaded narrative, unveiled and raw. Aaron Sheppard’s elaborate paintings dredge Eros from the ether; monuments of erotic iconography, untamed and obsessive. His female imagery is Dionysian and fantastic, recalling William Blake’s dark and swirling watercolors, but huge in scale. Both Young and Sheppard navigate a territory personal and untamed.
Together these artists revel in the tradition of telling tales of what it is to be human in the 21st century.
Opening reception : Saturday, June 13th 5-8pm
July 21 through September 8, 2007 Opening reception Saturday July 21st, 5-8pm.
Kris Chatterson Scott Fife Roman Opalka Carter Potter Arne Svenson Wayne White Yek
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.