Twinless Twin: The Journey of Life Seen Through Photos of Identical Twins

Curators’ Corner

Twinless Twin: The Journey of Life Seen Through Photos of Identical Twins

Identical twins are identical, right? On the contrary, experience shows that identical twins are rarely completely the same. At birth, identical twins appear almost interchangeable. However, as time passes, that tends to change. Twins share the same genes, but their environments diverge with age. Identical twins share nearly 100% of their genes, which means that most significant physical differences are due to variations in experience.

Beijing-based photographer Gao Rongguo returned to his hometown in the Shandong Province of China to explore the physical fate of a selection of identical twins, all over the age of 50. The twins are posed face-to-face to capture their portraits. Findings showed that fate took its course. Some siblings retained alikeness; however, none retained the carbon copy resemblance that identical twins have upon birth. Few barely hinted at being related. The most heartbreaking photo in the series is a twinless twin, staring into the distance. Only a dirt mound remains where his twin would have mirrored him if still alive.

Each pairing shows the influence of the country’s biggest upheavals. Difference in opportunities weighed heavily in the transformation of facial features and stature of each twin. Though China has become the world’s fastest developing nation growing at an inconceivable rate over the past 50 years, standards of living have only recently improved. One cannot underestimate the influence of even minor environmental variances in the development of a person.

Rongguo’s series presents a promising disposition—you are my brother, and you are my sister, we are connected. Until the end. Disconnect.