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© ARNE SVENSON
The Workers is a conceptual and thematic extension and bookend to The Neighbors, though Svenson is no longer shooting from his studio, but is out in the world recording details of people engaged in manual labor. The same techniques and palette have been applied as The Neighbors, but unlike the private lives and leisure time spent in the interiors of luxury apartments, here Svenson seeks to examine the nuances of another form of human activity- manual toil with tools and machines. He continues to photograph through windows, but here refines his images with an almost microscopic scrutiny of individuals focused on careful work. Whereas in The Neighbors we see people napping, dining or staring at their digital devices, here we see hands, elbows, backs and shoulders in evident concentration on a physical activity.
Svenson uses an oval as the framing format to signify a window without referring to traditional rectangular shapes, and alludes to the convention used in Old Masters portraiture that designates status. Svenson describes the imagery as a “Narrative of eloquence in the face of brittle conditions, of the beauty and delicacy of a hand in motion hovering over a machine that could tear that hand apart.”