Maurice Scheltens & Liesbeth Abbenes 

Garbage Bag, Livraison 

Garbage Bag

About the artist

Most of the time, they scurry around a table, compose, arrange… a little more to the left, then a little higher… they make sure the diagonal perfectly intersects with the horizontal to achieve the ideal formal balance. For more than ten years, Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes have been active in a form of photography that sets out to explore the art of still life. Within the limited space of the studio where they shoot, whether working on editorial and advertising   commissions or on personal projects, they always strive to transform objects – even the most trivial – into something worthy of being recorded as a photographic image. Their initial material is often insignificant – here, to the extreme (what could be less important than a bin liner?) – but once it has passed through their studio, it emerges transfigured, draped in a formal sophistication one would never have suspected. What’s the magical philtre for this pair of alchemists? Creativity built to withstand the most despairing dullness, and unflinching perfectionism.


This image of a bin liner subverts both the mundaneness of the initial object - a blue plastic garbage bag that you turn into a sculptural object - and the stillness of a still-life – by injecting motion into the picture. What was the concept forming the premise for this series?
How can we show without showing... how to represent a 'hidden' object? Over and over again, we find ourselves inside problems to be solved.
Here, a light-blue garbage bag rotating at 33 revolutions per minute on a turntable undergoes – thanks to patient recording by the camera’s eye − a wonderful metamorphosis: the image transforms a garbage bag into a vase worthy of inclusion in a modern art museum as a rare design piece. This was the result of playing around on the set with this subject. Many of our series come alive as we are building and discovering the potential of the objects.

In the 1920’s, some Bauhaus artists explored product photography, focusing on the very heart of the object, its graphic aspects and its materiality. Your approach seems very similar. Do you also feel that product photography allows limitless artistic exploration? And how so?
Yes, we believe there is no limit in showing a product in an artistic manner, while still being good to the product. We see products as building blocks for our compositions.
In our commissioned work, one of the criteria is to preserve their photographic quality beyond the specific campaign that it was initially made for. We like to approach commissioned, editorial and exhibition work in an equally 'important' way. These worlds have even turned out to be a breeding ground for each other. It's like showing the viewer something more than is actually there, through the play between two- and three-dimensionality, while remaining visually open about how things are done.
How do you work together?
We do most of our work in full collaboration. As we both like to arrange our 'home crafted' sets down to the tiniest detail, we have explored ways to work in which we play at moving things around and finding the right balance in the picture.

Limited edition, numbered and signed. 

Selected shows and awards

Still life, FOAM, Amsterdam, 2011

Playground, BIB Price, Cobra Museum, Amstelveen, 2011

Detail In Reverse, Gallery van Zomeren, Amsterdam, 2011 

On Display, Best Designed Dutch Books, Stedelijk Museum, 2009 

Arnhem Fashion Biennale, Kröller-Müller Museum, 2007

Selected publications

On Display, Veenman Publishers, 2009


& order

Maurice Scheltens & Liesbeth Abbenes 
Garbage Bag, Livraison


Technical information

Digital Lambda c-print on glossy paper - limited edition, numbered and signed certificate.


30,5 x 24 cm, Edition of 50

By the same artist

Maurice Scheltens & Liesbeth Abbenes

By the same curator