curated by Mirjam Westen
28.03.2018 - 28.04.2018
L.A. Raeven. Wild Zone 3, 2017, three-channel video installation, 13'25''
L.A. Raeven. Ideal Individual, 1999-2001, collage
L.A. Raeven. Wild Zone 2, 2002, two-channel video installation, 12'
After the premiere of their latest video installation, Wild Zone 3, at Museum Arnhem in the Netherlands, artist duo L.A. Raeven are presenting their project at Structura Gallery.
Liesbeth and Angelique Raeven are twin sisters, born in Heerlen, the Netherlands, in 1971. They have been working together since the end of the 1990s, creating performances, photographs, drawings, sculptures and video installations. The themes they explore are related, on the one hand – to life as identical twins, where the path to individuality is extremely difficult, and on the other hand – to the global conformity of beauty standards, imposed by the fashion industry.
For L.A. Raeven, the battle with the advertising propaganda of big business is personal. Having suffered the physical and psychological distress of an eating disorder in their past, they are now focused on challenging the stereotypes imposed on us by consumer society and the undue influence it exudes on our self-evaluation. The tragic stories of people, who by way of emulating their fashion idols have found themselves on the brink of life and death, losing not just their physical characteristics but also warping their minds beyond recognition. This is the starting point for many of L.A. Raeven’s works.
The clichés promoted by fashion magazines become canon for millions of young girls around the world. They blindly follow their idols, using all sorts of destructive methods for transformation. Along the path to achieving their ideal self, they often end up losing themselves. This, precisely, is a major theme in the work of the artist: preserving our individuality in a world that bombards us with role models.
In Wild Zone 3, as in the video Goodly Creatures (2017), which is also presented at Structura Gallery, the artist explores yet another problem that is very topical in Bulgarian society – namely, the appearance of a “new” human. As L.A. Raeven themselves say: “Men and women look more and more alike, and the body is increasingly being manipulated to our liking. The malleability of the body seems to know no bounds and is increasingly accepted as normal.” The artist calls into question this tendency and the desire of contemporary parents to mould their children according to desired norms, in order to make them more competitive, using a variety of means to do so. In profound contrast, the appearance of people of indeterminate gender, these so-called androgynous beings, scare the rest of the population precisely because they are different. The obvious changes in the world today require a serious – careful and unbiased – discussion.
This project is realized with the support of Mondriaan Foundation, Museum Arnhem, the Netherlands, and Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam.