The clean aesthetics of Scheltens & Abbenes work is something we are truly excited about. Together, they possess the unique ability of turning unexpected objects into pieces of incredible art. Their conceptual approach leaves viewers in awe no matter the subject. It just so happens that this Dutch artist duo also snowboards, so it was only a matter of time before our paths would cross. For this collaboration we gave them the Wallie and Distortia as their canvas and sat back in anticipation to see what they would come up with. For the Distortia, a 1:1 knitting pattern was created and over the course of several weeks the graphic was knitted in wool before being expertly photographed and meticulously color corrected for this graphic. For the Wallie, they turned their studio into a zen garden space with custom made rakes that allowed them to create the patterns they desired. At the end they showed us how sand or corrugated metal sheets can give the feeling of freshly groomed snow, as seen from their point of view. We sat down with Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes and asked a few questions about their work and the processes used to create these limited edition boards.
You seem to have applied very different creative approaches. Could you explain the creative process for each board?
Before we started to collaborate on various projects in 2002 we recognized our seemingly different working methods. Liesbeth was making wall-textiles from felt with hand made embroidered scenes on them while Maurice was constructing elaborate still lifes in front of the camera. We discovered we had a lot in common when it came to a controlled and slow working process. By designing these snowboards, we both got the chance to experiment separately with different materials. The knitted scarf was hand-made by Liesbeth while Maurice was making zen gardens in the studio and playing with colours of light (each board length has a different color). Although the approaches are very different, each method asks for the same ‘zen’ attitude. Although we each had our own board to work on, we did assist each other every now and then. In the end we were happy to deliver two very different looking boards. Although both boards are visually very different, they both represent a tactile work that is the result of a shared conceptual thinking.
What inspired you to make the board graphics?
We first had to put ourselves into the habitat of a snowboard. Working with the unusual dimensions of a snowboard and the two sides of the board was the next challenge for the imagery. We were able to think freely without any specific brief, which always works the best for us. We were inspired by traditional Norwegian knitting patterns and used them as the starting points to communicate a warm snowboard. Always being inspired by the ‘the backside’ of hand made objects, it was only logical to use the backside of this knitwork for the base of the board. Both works felt like personal pieces. ’Would I like to ride this board myself?’ was maybe the most important aspect to these boards.
You haven’t only designed the graphics for the boards but also provided the images for the campaign. Could you explain to us what these are about?
In our work we are still-life photographers, making constellations in front of the camera. Photographing our own snowboards brought us full circle. Just like with the design process for the boards we like to think in a conceptual way about the campaign photography as well. For the Wallie photo, the zen lines, which seem to resemble the lines of a groomed slope, are imitated in the photograph by using white painted corrugated metal plates to achieve a stylised abstraction of the slopes. We took a similar approach with the photograph for the Distortia. Here a white sheet is suggesting a resort map with red and blue slopes made out of wool thread. The knitting pins could be taken as ski lifts. One could say that the campaign images of the ‘zen board’ is a zoom in view of a slope while the ‘knitted board’ is presented on zoomed out slopes.
What’s your relationship with snowboarding and Bataleon?
We got to know Bataleon Creative Director Danny Kiebert through our kids, who attend the same school in Amsterdam. We recognized a similar drive in working and it came pretty natural once he asked us to think about the imagery of these boards. We were thrilled with this assignment loving the shape and technique of the board especially paired with their colourful bindings.As a family, we love to snowboard if we get the chance. We usually go with friends and a lot of kids. We enjoy seeing the way they pick it up so fast! This time we got to ride on our own creations which makes it even more special!
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 conceptualisation 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 utilise 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, Asama International Photo Festival Japan and the Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie Mannheim. In 2019 they made a special commission for the Dutch Royal House at Palace Huis ten Bosch. Scheltens & Abbenes create commissioned photographs for fashion and design companies such as Humanrace by Pharrell Williams, Paco Rabanne, Maison Martin Margiela, COS, Hermes, Frederic Malle, Muller van Severen, Arita, Gucci Osteria, Diptyque and editorials for magazines such as Fantastic Man, The Gentlewomen, Another Man, Double, Pin-Up magazine, MacGuffin, The Plant and T The New York Times Style magazine. Scheltens & Abbenes won a ICP Infinity Award, in New York.