Kurzen is a French documentary photographer who has been based in Nigeria for the past seven years. In his most recent project capturing the lives of ‘Twin Births,’ she explains that she had for a long time wanted to investigate Nigeria’s twins’ phenomenon.
Although she had always wanted to do this, she had little ideas on how to go about until De Wilde, a Belgian now based in the Netherlands, joined her photo agency.
They both identified three locations in Nigeria where twin births are more pronounced: Igbo-Ora, where twins are celebrated; Gwagwalada, whose orphanage stands as terrible testimony to continuing infanticide; and Calabar, a southern city where a 19th-century Scottish Presbyterian missionary.
Mary Slessor is honored for persuading local people to cherish, rather than kill, their twins.
In Europe, we have replaced our ancient mythologies. Nobody really knows what Castor and Pollux or the Gemini sign mean any more. We come to Nigeria to revive that mythology. As the project progressed, they found themselves being mistaken for twins and working like them: “There was no question of ego at all. One of us would have an idea and the other would complete it. One would have the camera and the other would hold the light.Kurzen
She pointed out that some of their portraits resemble the work of Kehinde Wiley, the American portraitist of Barack Obama’, Kurzen laughs and says they met him briefly in Lagos. Wiley is himself a twin.
Land Of Ibeji – The Igbo-Ora Commuinity
The Yoruba Town Igbo-Ora Claims To Be The Twins Capital Of The World.
They took several photographs in an orphanage near the capital, Abuja, a sanctuary for children in danger of being killed because of deeply held superstitions in their communities. Not for nothing did Chinua Achebe write, in his great 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, of twins being stuffed into earthenware pots and cast away into the forest because “the Earth has decreed that they were an offense on the land and must be destroyed”.
Through their pictures, they say, they hope:
to open the eyes of the twin as a mythological figure and a powerful metaphor. For the duality within a human being and the duality we experience in the world that surrounds us. In this way, “the mythology of twinhood becomes a way to address themes like identity, genetics, demographics, economy, religion and environmental issues.Land Of Ibeji 2019
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