GiesenLeenders is photographers duo Maurits Giesen (1975) & Ilse Leenders (1979). Having worked together on joint photographic projects since we completed our studies at the Royal Academy of Arts (KABK) in The Hague, The Netherlands in 2001. We (Maurits Giesen and Ilse Leenders) try to combine inventiveness with technical expertise. We state that ‘each series has its own particular question’ although the thread running through our work is a cutting edge concern with pushing the technical, aesthetic and narrative boundaries of the medium.
The photographic projects are conceptual in approach but also have their own distinctive presence. The authority of our work lies in the meticulous care with which we construct and ‘direct’ each shot. We acknowledge the subliminal impact of different genres, from film noir to pulp fiction and graphic novels, but create convincing scenes that invite suspension of disbelief. These considered images often focus on anonymous fictional characters (always ourselves in disguise), although more recently our imaginary narratives have been inspired by specific locations, in particular the streets of Paris and the Western coast of the US.
We encourage the viewer to be attentive, to not only the visual look of the precise choreographed mise-en-scenes we create, but also the diverse cultural influences that make up Western shared memory and imagination. Increasingly, the people in our images tend to be lone characters, people who may remain otherwise unnoticed in our technologically dependent lives.
We invite the viewer to read these shots as if they were stills in an engrossing film, but the narratives are mainly supplied by the curious viewer rather than a pre-determined script.
Using ourselves as models we set a technical challenge; how can we achieve different portraits with only ourselves as living props? Never content to take an easy route, we make strange the physical limitations of the photographic process, wondering how we can – for example – work with light without using light presented in ‘Monotypes’.