“What is this?” or “Something doesn’t make sense here” are often heard reactions on the photos of Anuschka Blommers & Niels Schumm. In their work the photographic duo intends to put the viewer off balance.
In ‘Delusions’, The Ravestijn Gallery presents a selection of thirteen optical illusions from the oeuvre of Blommers & Schumm wherein confusion is omnipresent.
A recent series of four misleading stills for the erotic paperback magazine ‘Baron’ gave rise for the show. Here the viewer might be confronted with his own perverse thoughts by everyday objects, such as a piece of paper or a lamp, depicted in such a suggestive way that they become erotically charged, which they are factually not.
Somewhat sinister is a stylistic series for ‘Kid’s Wear’ magazine of a man dressed from head to toe in a black suit (Niels Schumm) holding a baby. This series is inspired by Victorian photographers who invented a method to photograph babies by human shapes of mothers trying to hide behind them whilst they hold their babies still during the film’s long exposure time.
In the intriguing portrait series of women for the German magazine ‘Mode Depesche’ something odd is happening. By flipping the entire image vertically, but keeping the eyes and mouth the same way up, we are tricked into thinking that we’re looking at a regular face. When you look at the image up side down, though, the features of the women’s faces become quite monstrous. This is dubbed the ‘Thatcher effect’ named after the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on whose picture this effect has been most demonstrated.
A counterpart in the show is a still of a glass water that is about to drop from a table in which Blommers & Schumm created an illusion where you may think that a lot is about to happen but, when you look closely, nothing is actually happening.
Similar to the director Michael Haneke in his films, Blommers & Schumm share an interest between what we experience and what we see – as we think: we experience what we see. In their work they play with that ambiguity. “We love to create an image that has a certain friction, that is even a bit spooky so that the viewer will think: “What is this?”
Anuschka Blommers (Purmerend, 1969) and Niels Schumm (Naarden, 1969) have worked together since they graduated from the Rietveld Academy in 1996. They became renowned for their hyper realistic portraits for cutting edge fashion magazines including Selfservice, Purple, Re: Magazine, Visionaire, Dazed & Confused, i-D and Fantastic Man. In their editorials the focus was not on the clothes but on the individual, which was regarded as quite unconventional in the fashion world.
For these shoots they didn’t use fashion models but ‘ordinary people’, such as friends and family members, who were dressed in the latest fashion and depicted in a kitchen or a residential area.
Blommers & Schumm are sought after in the fashion world and the art world. Their work has been exhibited in the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, the Groninger Museum, Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, and the ICA in Boston. In 1998, they were awarded the ‘Best Young Fashion Photography Award’ at the Thirteenth Festival International des Arts de la Mode, Hyères. In 2006, a survey of their work was published: ‘Anita and 124 other portraits’.