The book Zeen was launched in 13th March 2019 during the eponymous exhibition of work by still-life photographers Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes at Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam.
Although this book stands alone, it has similarities with the exhibition, in which the visitor is invited to look attentively at the things around them, sometimes at a micro level. The book’s graphic design by Esther de Vries also encourages this conscious observation in a variety of ways.

Much of Scheltens & Abbenes’ work is commissioned for editorial use, but is characterised by its autonomy. Because of the consistent aesthetic character of their series over the years, individual images can be coupled with those from other series, irrespective of chronology or context. In this way, the images influence each other, revealing the visual layers hidden in the works. The book elucidates the various contexts within which the images operate through reproductions of the publications in which they were first presented, thus making the reader aware of how context helps to shape observation and interpretation. Some images are shown for a second time in juxtaposition with another image, allowing another aspect to come to the fore and revealing the connections between the individual works and Scheltens & Abbenes’ consistent way of looking at the things around them.
The tactile quality of Scheltens & Abbenes’ photographic still lifes is echoed in the embossed lettering and foil stamping on the book’s flexible cover. The stream of images contained within invites the reader to explore. The codes on each page refer to the clients who commissioned the images, while indexes allow the reader to search for more information. This commercial aesthetic of tables and codes is evocative of industrial wholesale catalogues, thus hinting at industrial design.
The book features an essay by Louise Schouwenberg, divided into three sections. Because Zeen is published by Case Publishing, and has been translated into both English and Japanese, the book has two fronts, allowing the reader to approach it in either direction and see it afresh each time.

The Dutch substance name Zeen(tendon, fiber), is a firm but flexible tissue, used in the anatomy or dissection, that attaches itself to a muscle and gives strength to the skeleton.This description appeals to us for the meaning, origin and sound because it tells us in a metaphoric way how the ‘machine’ of Scheltens and Abbenes works zoomed in on the inside of the body. Zeen has a hint of zen, seeing and magazine without being able to put a finger on it straight away, creating confusion and curiosity where, as far as we are concerned, everything starts.


Scheltens & Abbenes シュルテンス&アベネス

Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes are the sum total of a still-life photographer and the creative craftsmanship of an artist. Technical perfection added to individual handicraft, strong pictorial clarity in addition to tailor-made settings. They experiment with converting spatial dimensions into flat surfaces and explore intensively photography’s potential for creating illusion. Essential to their work is the laboratory process in the studio where they construct their settings with an attitude of conceptualization and solution-led thinking, regardless of whether they are editing or tackling commissioned or independent artistic work.

Instead of presenting objects as plain sellable products, they often manipulate and utilize them as building blocks for new compositions. The autonomous artistic quality of the photograph always has to prevail. Scheltens & Abbenes deliberately choose to operate both in the field of applied and autonomous art and use them as breeding ground for one another. This approach resulted in showing their projects in cultural institutions such as Galliera Musee de la Mode Paris, Foam Amsterdam, Huis Marseille Amsterdam, The Kunsthal in Rotterdam and The Art Institute of Chicago.

Scheltens & Abbenes create commissioned photographs for fashion and design companies such as Paco Rabanne, Maison Martin Margiela, COS, Hermes, Scholten & Baijings, Arper, Muller van Severen, Arita, Mutina and editorials for magazines such as Fantastic Man, The Gentlewomen, Double, Pin-Up magazine, MacGuffin, The Plant and New York Times Magazine. Scheltens & Abbenes won a ICP Infinity Award, in New York.


Case Rotterdam
Wilhelminakade 52, 3072 AR, Rotterdam Netherlands
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