About L.A. Raeven
In 1999 we launched our first collaborative project, we decided to work under the name L.A. Raeven. We wanted to conceal the fact that we are sisters, which would otherwise be clear from our names, Liesbeth and Angelique Raeven. We believed that the name L.A. Raeven sounded more authoritative and that people would be less likely to dismiss us as a cute pair of twins. We consider ourselves outsiders in this society and live by rules and laws different than the customary. Trendwatchers observe not only the mainstream but also society’s outsiders to discern trends and prognostications. But why should one not be able to take oneself as the starting point to dictate trends?
We established the L.A. Raeven Analyse and Research Service (see our book publication) in order to profile ourselves as professionals and to conduct research centered on ourselves. We wanted to increase our influence (as outsiders) and create a future in which we would represent the ideal, the idea being that if we were the ideal, the whole world would conform to the standards we set. Everyone would want to be like us, wear the same clothes and eat the same food as us. Everything available on the market would reflect our taste. It would be great not to feel pressured to follow trends we don’t like.
Through advertisements in the press our reserve service invited girls to take part in our studies, namely, “who conforms to our ideal image?” We gave the studies a “medical” slant so that the girls would not feel they were attending a fashion casting, but rather that we were the doctors and they the patients.
During her nursing course Liesbeth often came across studies of patients, which she thought was an intriguing idea. The starting point of these case reports, as they are called, is to view the patient as a “proband,” to observe human beings like guinea pigs, like some kind of strange specimen.
The use of twins for medical research also intrigues us. Josef Mengele’s (1911-1979) studies of-and experiments twins during World War II deeply shocked us, but it also triggered our interest in this type of research. As a result, we started to work with files partly based on the files Mengele used to compare pairs of twins, and on the “anamnesis” admission forms used in hospitals. The procedures we follow have remained unchanged over the years. When something in society draws our attention we first try to establish the reason why. We look for scientific reasons before giving our subjective judgment in a film or installation.
Everything centers on the question of why we look the way we do. What is determined by our genes and what is determined by our milieu? And how can we change that? Taking ourselves as the starting point is the leitmotif of our work. As twins, we are confronted with these issues more than others. We have to find ways of dealing with the feelings of guilt that result from making certain choices. And being twins, we always have someone with whom to compare ourselves: one twin makes a good choice and demonstrates to the other the consequences of her poorer choice. The mere fact that she exists makes the other aware of what things would have been like if she hod not made a particular choice. How often we have said to one another, “It’s not my fault that I was born!” Tirelessly and unremittingly we address the question “how do I become a unique individual” and the problems to which it gives rise.