Arne Svenson’s Unspeaking Likeness is a photographic series of forensic facial reconstruction sculptures. These sculptures are commissioned by various law enforcement agencies and used for the purposes of establishing the identity of victims of suspected violent crime whose soft tissue facial features have been obliterated by either trauma or the passage of time. Svenson traveled throughout the USA and Mexico photographing these objects, treating them as live beings of whom he was taking a portrait. The point of focus was the eyes; the rest of the face was allowed to fall out of focus so as to better speak to the anonymity of the victim and the malleability of their existence.
First and foremost in Arne 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.
Svenson’s photographs have been shown extensively in the United States and Europe and his work is included in numerous public and private collections. In 2016 he received the prestigious Nannen Prize for his project The Neighbors. He is a self-taught photographer with an educational and vocational background in special education. Svenson is the author/photographer of numerous books, including Unspeaking Likeness, The Neighbors, Prisoners and Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863). His most recent museum exhibition was The Neighbors at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, 2016.