Twins: an almost illogically impossible phenomenon where two people look exactly, or almost exactly, alike. Stories of the bonds twins share are equally as fascinating; experiencing the same thoughts and dreams, or switching places to help one another out. It’s no wonder that both Mary Ellen Mark and Julie de Waroquier were drawn to them as the subject matter for their photographs.
Mary Ellen Mark is a well-known photographer based in New York. Considering herself both a documentary and a portrait photographer, Mark was drawn to twins as a unique subject of fascination over a long period of time. She first travelled to the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio in 1998. Enamored with the idea of making a full body of work on twins, Mark contacted the Festival in 2001 to arrange to do a documentary and portrait project there. Over two years she captured portraits and interviewed her subjects, ending up with over a thousand pages of transcripts. The photos themselves, created with the 20×24 poloroid, are stunning black and white images full of narrative and personality.
Julie de Waroquier is a French photographer and philosopher. Her twin series is titled “Chimeras.” Of it she wrote:
“twins have always fascinated me, and not only because I have a twin brother: they are almost magic, and yet they are real. Indeed, the fact that two people look exactly the same whereas they are not the same person is astonishing. It is like a real dream, or like a miracle. In some past or present civilizations, twins are even considered as gods…or as monsters.”
Capturing her chimeras in dreamy landscapes, de Waroquier’s images take on a kind of mythical feeling of their own, furthering the sense that the existence of twins is both mysterious and special.