Twins. I feel like it’s impossible to escape the idea of female doubleness (or twins as I prefer to label it) in art. So many times I find pieces that show two women and paint them as opposites, black and white, good and bad. I’m not too sure if artists always intend or desire to show the good / bad dichotomy, but I struggle to separate it. Not that it’s a bad thing necessarily, I just wonder why it’s so omnipresent.
I’ll start with a photo of actual twins from the famous and controversial Diane Arbus. The Roselle twins
In this instance, Arbus has taken the subject matter of identical twins and associated it with something ‘freakish’. Anyone familiar with Arbus’ work will know that it’s pretty much all about freaks. And while these twins are by no means freaks (there is nothing abnormal about their size, skin, body etc.) the way she has photographed them (and just by association with her name) does add this dimension. There is no colour difference to emphasize the good / bad dichotomy, but their expressions certainly suggest this. On the left is the ‘evil’ one and the right the ‘good’ one. I quite love the expression on the left though (I wonder what that says about me?).
Another image I found is by Cassandra Rhodin
More of a fashion illustration, the black / white contrast is pretty obvious in the hair and lips. However, I like that this is pretty much the only thing that differentiates them. Thus, not fulfilling the good / bad idea so strongly. Only through our existing notions of white being good and black being bad would we draw conclusions on the nature of these two women.
And finally, a piece by Glenn Arthur
Really interesting work (I love all his work). There is certainly contrast between the two women in the good / bad way. The blonde woman is clearly positioned as the good one, the victim even. While the dark-haired woman seems obviously malicious, especially in the way she is holding the necklace. I’m sure there is heaps of symbolism and meaning in this piece, and I would love to hear more about it. But, it definitely fits within the twin / female doubleness art that I see so often.