“Being the daughter of a twin mother, from an early age I have found twins to be a source of amusement and perplexity,” Sandrine Kerfante writes in the introduction to the photography book she edited, Two of a Kind. “When I was a young child, it was really amazing to discover the perfect double of my mum.”
For Kerfante, “the perfect double” doesn’t have to mean matching DNA; her book was adapted from her blog, twin-niwt, “a collection of twin-like images from different artists.”
“Twin-like” can mean sisters who mimic each other’s behaviors, an important part of socialization for children. It can mean friends who feel so close they wish they were blood-related, so they dress up in matching knee-highs. It can mean two, spindly Cyprus trees that happened to grow together to a matching height. Or two metal chairs shoved together, their legs interlocked.
Kerfante writes that even without a literal twin, most people understand what it’s like to copy another person’s behavior ― or have their behavior copied. “As disconcerting as that experience can sometimes be, it is also wonderful to feel we are seen and understood in that way,” she writes. “A double both imitates and betrays the original.”
Mirroring is a necessary part of developing our own identities, by trying on the identities of others. But to see it so baldly illustrated, as it is in the images of Two of a Kind, can be amusing and even a little unsettling. In a photo by Benoit Mauduech, identical redheads share a single, thick braid, making it unclear where one girl’s hair ends, and the other begins. The point is that it doesn’t really matter. While posed for the picture, they’re fused into one.