Zeen : Scheltens & Abbenes
Tokyo: Case Publishing, 2019. Thick clothbound softcover devoted to the duo, whose photography and product photography was the subject of this exhibition. Text by Louise Schouwenberg. Includes work for Fantastic Man, Balenciaga, AnOther magazine, Maison Martin Margiela, etc. Very good condition.
Scheltens & Abbenes - ZEEN
Press release | February 2019
In the spring of 2019, Foam will present the largest museum solo exhibition of the artist duo Scheltens & Abbenes so far. The duo is seen as the most progressive still-life photographers in the Netherlands today. Maurice Scheltens (1972) and Liesbeth Abbenes (1970) have managed to build an international artistic practice at the intersection of commissioned and autonomous photography.
The exhibition draws the visitor into a sense of wonder at the things we encounter in daily life. In their studio, Scheltens & Abbenes analyse the essence of things by subjecting their anatomy to a meticulous and painstaking examination. Object come to life by lifting them from their everyday context, framing and zooming in on them, to thereby penetrate to their innermost core: a colourful powder patch, the sharp crease in a men’s shirt, rivets on a lorry. This is what the title of the exhibition refers to: ZEEN. This is a Dutch synonym for a tendon, which is a robust but pliable form of tissue that ties a muscle to the skeleton. This serves as a metaphor for how Scheltens & Abbenes zoom in on the inner dimension of an object’s body, and then tie this to a greater whole. It also refers to displaying the characteristic features of an object at a very detailed level. Lastly, the title is a play on the words Zien, (Maga)Zine and Zen, all of which refer to paying attention, to concentrating, to being sensitive to details – which are all important elements in the Scheltens & Abbenes oeuvre.
Photography emerged as an applied form of art that has gradually evolved into an autonomous art form as well. Scheltens & Abbenes’s work explores the intersecting field. This puts them firmly in the tradition of prominent Dutch product photographers such as Piet Zwart, who played with the flat surface of the photograph and the three-dimensionality of what he photographed, within a commercial context. Far from being dead objects, the items photographed by Scheltens & Abbenes are bursting with life, colour, beauty and power. The viewpoint of the camera is essential to their work: the carefully composed sets would immediately become a jumble if the camera were to be positioned just a fraction to the left or the right.