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Back to Reviews 97

Arne Svenson
Conference Room, Hilton Hotel, 1993

© ArtNet Worldwide 1997
david ebony's
new york top ten

arne svenson
at julie saul

April 3-May 10

In much of his work New York photographer Arne Svenson makes the mundane seem extraordinary. His earlier works, such as still- life images of leaves and bones, for instance, or his portraits of criminals and art critics, are all permeated with a kind of deadpan humor. The same may be said of his black-and-white Las Vegas scenes, which he has taken over the past several years, and which make up this witty show. Svenson's depopulated Las Vegas is not a pretty sight--a city of lost hopes and shattered dreams. He focuses in on the artifice, the facade and the fake glamour, that are so much a part of this glitzy town.

A number of images deal with Las Vegas's often ridiculous architecture. Interiors are confused with exteriors and vice- versa. One photo, for example, shows a hotel lobby with a huge, tacky photo-mural of an autumn country scene in New England. Dried leaves are scattered on the wall-to-wall carpeting in front of the mural, as if in an attempt to enhance the bizarre illusion. Some images are eerie. One shows a hotel conference room divided by flimsy-looking floor-to-ceiling partitions. The far wall, decorated in faux-rococo style, is dominated by a large archway painted black. This disconcerting archway resembles a train tunnel entrance. It also seems to offer a handy exit for disenchanted gamblers--a desperate leap into the void.