2e prijs documentair internationaal (serie)

Double Trouble Blessed Twice

This collaborative photographic project visually investigates the mythology of twin hood and how paradoxical beliefs regarding twins manifest in Nigeria. Using twinhood as a vehicle to explore the friction between the communal and the individual embodied by the twin: two people that are one.

West Africa and specifically Yoruba-land (Nigeria’s South West) has ten times more twins than any other region in the world. Communities have developed cultural practices in response to this high twin birth rate, from veneration to demonisation. In some areas the twin spirit is worshiped and celebrated. In others, twins are vilified, persecuted and killed for their perceived role in bringing bad luck.

By creating an aesthetic language that is meant to reflect and empower the Yoruba belief that twins are “magical” and ‘supernatural’ they aim to document twin hood in Nigeria in a way that challenges simplistic representation of African traditions.

The fascination for twinhood expands beyond the borders of Nigeria. Although the twin as a powerful spiritual symbol seems forgotten we know the Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux, we’ve heard how Romelus and Remus created Rome, we remember Plato shining a light upon the double nature of things. Duality is key, in the metaphorical and literal, the visible and the invisible, death and life, darkness and light, the spiritual and the material. This project is an invitation to look beyond appearance and the exoticism of the identical by calling upon a universal mythological figure; the twin.

Images are shot in/around two locations in Nigeria (2018):

Igbo Ora, ‘Twin capital of the world’ where almost each household has twins and twins are seen as a token for good luck, good health and wealth. The first edition of the ‘Twin Festival’ was held in Igbo Ora in Nov. 2018.

An orphanage in Gwagwalada where two missionaries started rescuing newborn children from being killed by their community. When born as twins or when their mother dies during child labor they are seen as an ‘evil’ spirit bringing bad luck.