Arne Svenson

Book of Eyes

Book of Eyes

Tuesday, April 14th, 7pm
The School of Visual Arts Amphitheatre

209 E. 23rd Street (2nd and 3rd avenues), 3rd Floor
(please bring photo ID)

Book signing and sale to follow the lecture.
Free to CCNY members, SVA students, faculty, and staff
General admission $10, $5 for other students with ID

During the past twenty years Arne Svenson has created a number of diverse photographic series exploring a range of subjects from turn of the century California prisoners to sock monkeys to the documentation of forensic facial reconstruction sculptures. His work as both an artist and author focuses on the specific themes of taxonomy, evidence, and reanimation. Svenson has an affinity for collecting grim, even morbid images, ideas and objects and placing them into new configurations. Even as he explores some of the basic issues of life and death, he embraces the absurd. Svenson finds the line between laughing and mourning often indistinct, which is reflected in his work. The photographs from these bodies of work have been shown extensively in both gallery and museum venues nationally and internationally. Svenson is the author/photographer of 5 books. Svenson is represented by Julie Saul Gallery in NYC, andWestern Project in Los Angeles.

Currently he is working on 3 distinct series:

The Last Library: The exhibition will include upwards of 20 artists books of varying sizes and formats which Svenson is producing; titles include Skin Samples – a 70 page book of close-up photographs of skin, The Book of Eyes – an exploration of the genetic ocular connections between family members, and Real Estate Ladies – a 600 page, 40 pound, book of scanned and enlarged photographs taken from real estate magazine advertisements. The exhibition will be shown in its entirety at Western Project, in 2010. In 2008, Svenson received a Nancy Graves Foundation Grant to enable him to pursue and produce The Last Library.

Strays are images of kittens that are photographed in such a way that denies the viewer the opportunity to see their faces. The heads are turned so far to the background so as to totally disengage the subject from the viewer. In many cases, the head is turned far enough so as to appear as though there is no face to the kitten as if it had slipped off, to be replaced by the blankness of fur. This work will be exhibited at Augen Gallery in 2009.

Unspeaking Likeness is a series of images of forensic facial reconstruction sculptures. Briefly, when investigators call for it, shortly after an unidentified corpse (or part thereof) is found, an artificial face made of clay or plaster is constructed by a forensic artist to better aid in the identification of the victim. Svenson has spent the last four years traveling around the country to coroner’s offices and law enforcement agencies photographing examples of these reconstructions in classic portraiture style. Twin Palms Publications will publish a book of this work, entitled Unspeaking Likeness, in 2010.