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By Astrid Peeters

  The photography duo Lucie de Barbuat (France, 1981) and Simon Brodbeck (Germany, 1986), provide an insight into our own lives. They do this by means of two series, through their current exhibition at the FotoMuseum in Antwerp.

In ‘Scenes of Life’ they show intimate family moments photographed from above, yet this intimacy disappears completely in the series of images 'Silent World'. The number of works may be relatively small (eight photos and two video installations), yet their talent and skill are immediately noticeable. The first work 'Sunday Afternoon' shows many emotions and stories simultaneously. Two kids and a man are casually fishing, yet it is the reflection of the clouds in the water that prevails here. One can easily keep looking for many minutes and constantly discover new details. Particularly the ripples in the water show that a great effort has been made to obtain this mesmerizing result. The view from above creates a very intimate feeling, forcing the viewer to feel like a god or some kind of spy, someone who sees everything without being present.

The image ‘Missing Childhood’, where a young woman sits on a staircase next to a rocking horse is a portrait that raises many questions. Is this a girl who does not want to grow up? Or has a child from this household disappeared? The relationship between the woman on the stairs and the rocking horse is ambiguous, creating tension in the work. For the most part the other portraits are interesting and intriguing as well, but the image of ‘Last Breakfast’ is too staged and lacks mystery behind it.

The portrait ‘Alone Together’ of a man and a newborn who are falling asleep on a bed is very touching. The first video installation takes this notion of intimacy even further. Against one wall a real bedroom with a bed has been installed. Around the bed you can see a small nightstand, shoes, books, etc. On the bed a sleeping and cuddling couple is being projected. A nice idea that goes along with the intimate theme, but the set-up is rather amateurish.

The other video installation ‘Silent World’ is of a different caliber. Lucie and Simon chose to place one or two characters in the middle of recognizable public places that are otherwise devoid of human life. The artists have captured highly popular public places, such as Madison Square in New York City or Place de la Concorde in Paris, that are normally very busy but now are completely deserted.  How they managed to take these pictures is a mystery to me,but it is so exciting to see how these places look when they are empty. The video first focuses on a person and then the picture is zoomed out to the surroundings or vice versa from a large overview picture zoomed in to a person. This technique draws attention to the idea of how small and insignificant we are as individuals. If only I knew how they did it, this exhibition would have been perfect to me.

​​​​​​​​​​​​Film by Lucie & Simon | Silent World, shows some of the worlds most populated landmarks deserted

Music by Phillip Glass & Daft Punk, 2012

Astrid Peeters, a Belgian PR student with a background in art history. She studies in Antwerp, Belgium’s unofficial fashion capital and tries to visit as many exhibitions as possible around the world.

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