ARNE SVENSON

阿恩史云逊
Арне Свенсон

strangers

Arne Svenson

source: arnesvenson

Arne Svenson is self taught as a photographer, but his sensibility was largely formed by his early work as a therapist/educator working with severely disabled children. His vision embraces the unusual, quirky individuality of people and places and represents them with beauty, clarity and reverence. He creates most of his work within the controlled environment of the studio, and even when he ventures out to record the world, his vision is informed by the interior quality of his studio.

Svenson works serially and obsessively on discrete projects which vary greatly, yet share these qualities. A sense of humor and fatalism allows Svenson to move freely from one obsession to the next, always manifest with extreme craft, diligence and love.

In one of his earliest projects, exhibited at Lieberman & Saul Gallery in 1992, Svenson transformed plants and flowers into mutated creations which appear to have been surgically transformed. He sewed pansy patches on to damaged flowers, or combined one species with another to somehow better function in this world. The encyclopedic nature of these series is seen in a later project called Faggots in which he invited gay men indiscriminately to his studio and had them pose in a completely neutral environment, either clothed or naked. The series reveals the impossibility of stereotyping and the fascination of the individual.

An ongoing relationship with the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia which houses an enormous collection of medical oddities has produced work which revels in the beauty of the grotesque.

Regular trips to Las Vegas over many years with his partner who was stationed there on business forced Svenson out of the studio. The bizarre, artificial yet mundane surroundings spurred him to create a deadpan yet luscious black and white record of the trappings of Oz in the desert. Svenson’s first book entitled Prisoners came about after the discovery of a collection of turn of the century glass plate negatives from Northern California recording convicted criminals as classic frontal and profile mug shots. He lovingly printed these negatives, bringing the subjects alive, and painstakingly researched each of their stories.

The mug shots of Faggots and Prisoners presaged his most celebrated project to date – that of his loving portrait series of a collection of sock monkeys which was published in 2002, which reproduced 200 of a collection of almost 2000, each with as much uniqueness and clarity as a DNA model.

The current project which has occupied Svenson for several years is the recording of sculptural forensic heads, constructed by master forensic model makers in which he somehow brings life back to these forgotten victims. Twin Palms will publish a monograph of this work in 2010.
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source: theguardian

“It’s just plain creepy!” “This guy should be arrested.” “He’s a peeping Tom with a camera”. “These people had an expectation of privacy in their own home that was invaded by the perv, I mean photographer.”

The indignation that has greeted Arne Svenson’s series of images, The Neighbors, on comment forums has been colourful and occasionally unrepeatable. The 60-year-old surreptitiously snapped residents in the glass-walled apartments opposite his own in Tribeca, New York, and, without seeking permission from his subjects, exhibited them in a nearby gallery. Using a 500mm lens, he peeked into the lives of others – like a real-life LB Jeffries from the film Rear Window – and obliterated the assumed divide between the public and the personal. Unsurprisingly, two of his neighbours sued, having spotted their children among the subjects. Yet a court ruled this month that Svenson’s actions were defensible under the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, and that such art needs no consent to be made or sold.

Svenson says the verdict was “a great victory for the rights of all artists” and, although he remains wary of discussing the project, stresses that his motivation was only to observe the nuances of human existence. “I find the unrehearsed, unconscious aspects of life the most beautiful to photograph, as they are most open to interpretation, to a narrative,” he explains. “A dramatic moment has the single power of action, but tiny, linked moments are how we mark time on this earth – I am much more interested in recording the breath between words than I am the actual words themselves.”

Aren Svenson: Image from The Neighbors by Arne Svenson
A resident holds a pair of scissors while undertaking an unknown task. Photograph: Arne Svenson (courtesy of Julie Saul Gallery)

Svenson’s images are not as sensational as they first seem. The identities of his neighbours, who are rendered with a soft, painterly effect, are obscured, and the choice of framing also leaves a sense of mystery. They are truthful, artistic representations of life which possess a subtle theatricality (a characteristic evident throughout his practice). That the chosen moments are so acutely observed makes them disturbing. Indeed, the mere sensation that we are being looked upon is, as Jean-Paul Sartre concluded, enough to haunt us.

The acclaimed photographer Michael Wolf, some of whose work is of a similar ilk to The Neighbors (especially Window Watching, in which he peeped into towerblock apartments in Hong Kong), acknowledged this when he expressed his own unease at the idea of being photographed if he was unaware: “I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel if I knew someone would come into my room while I was sleeping and take my picture. I think, spontaneously, I wouldn’t feel comfortable,” he said.

“I don’t photograph anything salacious or demeaning,” is Svenson’s stock retort when pressed on his work’s morality. “I am not photographing the residents as specific, identifiable individuals, but as representations of humankind.” Indeed, his work lacks the explicitness of Merry Alpern’s photographs of prostitutes (Dirty Windows) and the scopophilic drive of Miroslav Tichy’s homespun snaps of female bathers. But it is a selfish practice nonetheless.

Aren Svenson: Image from The Neighbors by Arne Svenson
A dog stands at the window of an apartment, looking outwards. Photograph: Arne Svenson (courtesy of Julie Saul Gallery)
Not all such photography has artistic intent; the current show at the Photographers’ Gallery in London unearths a curious social project, Mass Observation, which began in 1937 with the aim of creating an “anthropology of ourselves”. Using a team of field workers and many modes of surveillance – undercover photography, eavesdropping and stalking among them – Mass Observation sought to record and examine the intricacies of British life. Its remit included such bizarre topics as behaviour of people at war memorials, the gestures of motorists, bathroom behaviour and the private lives of midwives.

Humphrey Spender was Mass Observation’s principal photographer and made many of his images covertly in the streets of Bolton and Blackpool. Spender, like Svenson, considered that the honourable intent of the project justified the means. “I believed obsessively that truth would only be revealed when people were not aware of being photographed. I had to be invisible,” he said. The results of those early years of Mass Observation are fascinating and it is the attention to seemingly trivial detail that correlates with Svenson’s work. At times, both found beauty in the banality of everyday life.

Occasionally, the urge to pry becomes inverted and the snooper’s behaviour reveals something of their own psyche. Kohei Yoshiyuki was a voyeur of voyeurs who photographed people as they watched couples having sex in Tokyo parks (The Park), while Sophie Calle had herself tailed by a private detective (The Shadow) to scrutinise herself as she scrutinised others (Suite Vénitienne, Address Book and The Hotel). These surreal and intense encounters suggest the act is as compelling as the action.

Shizuka Yokomizo, meanwhile, made residents complicit in the exploitation of their own privacy by posting notes into strangers’ homes inviting them to appear at their front window for her to photograph (Stranger). And it is within the phrasing of Yokomizo’s request that we find a telling detail: “Dear Stranger, I am an artist working on a photographic project which involves people I do not know … I would like to take a photograph of you … If you do not want to get involved, please simply draw your curtains to show your refusal. I really hope to see you from the window.” At the heart of peeping is a desire to ‘see’ and to ‘know’ – a wish to connect with strangers, rather than just an inclination to intrude. In Svenson’s case, the connection was made in a thoughtful yet controversial way.
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source: saulgallery

Arne Svenson’s art practice has led him down numerous and varied paths of visual exploration from landscape photographs of Las Vegas to portraits of sock monkeys, forensic facial reconstructions, chewed dog toys and medical museum specimens. Currently, in collaboration with the Andy Warhol Museum, he is working on a long-term portrait project with a group of autistic teenagers.

First and foremost in Svenson’s practice is to seek out the inner life, the essence, of his subjects, whether they be human, inanimate, or something in between. He uses his camera as a reporter uses text, to create a narrative that facilitates the understanding of that which may lie hidden or obscured. This narrative, at times only a whisper or suggestion, weaves throughout his divergent body of work.

Some time ago Svenson began photographing the windows of a neighboring building through the windows of his. He was intrigued not only by the implied stories within the frame of the glass but also by the play of light upon the subjects, the shadows, the framing of the structure. He doesn’t photograph anything salacious or demeaning– instead he records the turn of the head, the graceful arc of a hand, the human form obscured by drapery. Svenson is not photographing the people as specific, identifiable individuals, more as representations of human kind, of us. Careful not to reveal identities — the strength of the imagery lies in fact that we can see ourselves in the anonymous figures of “The Neighbors”.
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source: maxitendance

Autodidacte Arne Svenson n’a certes fréquenté aucune école d’art mais a su apprendre de ses expérience précédentes comme par exemple celle où il a travaillé avec des enfants handicapés en en tirant une sensibilité à nul autre pareil car la photographie consiste aussi à véhiculer le côté émotionnel. Ce photographe a décidé d’immortaliser une série de petits chats vagabonds qu’il a intitulée “Strays” avec une constante, ne jamais les montrer de face.

Celui qui un jour a décidé de saisir ces félins dans leur petit monde bien singulier sait qu’il faut avoir une bonne dose de patience pour faire poser cette star, Rachael Hale dans son ouvrage “The French Cat” nous en donnait un aperçu. La particularité de ces “contre- portraits” signés Arne Svenson réside dans le fait qu’aucun chaton ne pose de face. Celui-ci les a capturés en pleine action, la tête ailleurs. Ils se détournent de l’objectif comme lassés de jouer au chat et à la souris avec le photographe et n’ont bien sûr que faire de l’appareil photo et de nous, spectateurs d’un instant.
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source: parqmag

Arne Svenson é um artista foto­grafo de 61 anos que reside em Nova Iorque. O seu tra­ba­lho é cri­ado em geral a par­tir de um motivo que genera uma série de ima­gens em que a com­po­nente esté­tica e social são evi­den­tes . Desta vez Svenson teve como motivo foto­grá­fico os vizi­nhos que moram no pré­dio à frente do seu, um edi­fí­cio novo, implan­tado no velho bairro boé­mio de Tribeca que tem sofrido gran­des trans­for­ma­ções de gentrificação.

Como o pró­prio afirma o pro­jecto nas­ceu quando um amigo que cos­tu­mava foto­gra­far pás­sa­ros, ofereceu-​​lhe uma tele­ob­jec­tiva. O que tinha sido, até então, um olhar desin­te­res­sado pelos novos habi­tan­tes que che­ga­vam ao bairro, pas­sou a ser um olhar muito mais pre­mo­no­ri­zado. Passou a ganhar uma dimen­são voyeu­rista, no sen­tido, em que pas­sou a vigiar mais com­pul­si­vamnte os peque­nos pas­sos de alguns dos seus vizi­nhos, com objec­tivo de che­gar a uma ima­gem satisfatória.

O que resul­tou não é uma expo­si­ção docu­men­tal da vida dos vizi­nhos mas um tra­ba­lho artís­tico que teve como refe­ren­cia os ambi­en­tes inte­ri­o­res que Verner cri­ava nas suas pin­tu­ras. Os mode­los foram os vizi­nhos e os inte­ri­o­res das suas casas, mas em todas as fotos é difi­cil de iden­ti­fi­car a pes­soa em ques­tão ficando ape­nas um pequeno traço do seu quo­ti­di­ano. Fica para o espec­ta­dor o poder de ima­gi­nar uma vida , um qua­dor socio-​​económico e mesmo um traço psi­co­ló­gico a par­tir da pequena pista dei­xada pelo fotografo.

As ima­gens cri­a­das foram reen­qua­dra­das para garan­tir o ano­ni­mato e foram expos­tas em grande for­mato sob o título The Neighbors mere­cendo vários pré­mios que atraí­ram a aten­ção do público em geral. Quem não gos­tou foram os vizi­nhos que se reco­nhe­ce­ram e apre­sen­ta­ram queixa num tri­bu­nal por devassa da vida pri­vada. O tri­bu­nal, entre­tanto, ja veio dar razão ao fotó­grafo garan­tindo que a arte não neces­sita de con­cen­ti­mento para ser rea­li­zada ou ven­dida. Para Svenson o vere­dicto foi “uma grande vitó­ria pelos direi­tos dos artis­tas”. Svenson não assume que tenha feito algo de errado quando na sua pers­pec­tiva ape­nas está cap­tando “nuan­ças da exis­tên­cia humana”. Num mundo onde somos vigi­a­dos por todos os lados, a câmera de Svenson parece inofensiva.