L.A. Raeven - Beyond the Image

L.A. Raeven - Beyond the Image


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

L.A. Raeven is the name of the Dutch artistic partnership formed by twin sisters Liesbeth and Angelique Raeven, born, as home video footage of them shows, on the March 15, 1971. The pair create film installations that often prove controversial, frequently using themselves as subjects and which have featured - among other things - the two of them looking emaciated during a period when they were both suffering from an eating disorder.

Lisa Boerstra's documentary examines the artwork through the prism of their personal lives. It's a partnership that we come to discover is predicated largely on a dominant/submissive dynamic, with power shifting down the years. This, in turn, is reflected in their art. Also key to their relationship is the tussle between independence and companionship. Boerstra's film is also, tangetially, an examination of consumption, which given their history is an unsurprisingly recurrent theme in their work. This isn't just food eating, however, but the deeper notion of one person consuming the other. "I can really only live with Liesbeth," says Angelique, despite the fact it was she who originally moved 'away', though now they live and work together. Now as Liesbeth considers a future where she works, but no longer lives, with her twin, issues come to a head.

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The way the two of them fight is fascinating. Drawing lots to see which of them has to do a chore or who gets to wear a favourite jacket and Boerstra captures their sparring, which is often played out as much through glances as through words.

The more knowledge of and interest in L.A. Raeven you bring to this film, the more you are likely to get out of it. Those who have never come across their work before will find this an interesting primer, that may prompt you to seek out their installations. However, despite its Beyond The Image subtitle, this film never really goes deeply enough. There is mention of their eating disorder, osteoperosis and the fact that Liesbeth is trying to become pregnant by IVF, but there is a sense that Boerstra may be shying away from asking tough questions at key moments. Definitely worth a look as an examination of how the twins' art interlocks with their lives but not as insightful as it could have been.

Reviewed on: 16 Jun 2011
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A twinned experience of private life and artistic persona.
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Director: Lisa Boerstra

Year: 2010

Runtime: 73 minutes

Country: Netherlands


EIFF 2011

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