Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Factum Kang – Candice Breitz

Mar 11, 2017 - Sarah Mei Herman

At the White Cube in London in 2010, I came across this fascinating work by the South African artist Candice Breitz. It always stayed with me, especially this video portrait of the twin-sisters Hanna and Laurie Kang, and their relentless honesty.

I have always been fascinated by sibling relationships which, I guess, comes from the fact that I grew up without a sibling. As a child I always wondered what it would be like. Nowadays as an adult, I find myself observing siblings, repeatedly photographing and filming them; imagining what it means to share the first stages of ones life with a sibling, and trying to get a closer understanding of what familial intimacy means.

The relationship between identical twins is probably the closest possible relationship there is. However, this work also shows that it can be extremely complicated. As one of the twin sisters Kang says in the video portrait: “It’s amazing but it’s also terrible at the same time…”


From White Cube

Breitz has often shown an interest in the alternating modes of desire and repulsion that shift between lovers, fans and celebrities. ‘Factum’ looks at the intensity of these forces between identical twins. Each ‘Factum’ is presented as a diptych (and one triptych), with each twin or triplet beside his or her sibling, dressed almost identically and in the same setting. Breitz interviewed each individual alone for up to seven hours, asking each twin the same set of questions. The artist then transcribed and analyzed each pair of interviews before editing the material into a dynamic conversation between the siblings, with the intertwining forces of documentary and fiction constantly at play. Through candid, often emotional responses, they reveal the strangeness, joys and difficulties of living one’s life in parallel to someone who shares your exact genetic code and yet who possesses a distinct identity, with desires and tastes that may differ in subtle or significant ways. While the initial interview allowed each twin or triplet to tell his or her own story unencumbered by the presence of a sibling, Breitz complicates this relationship in the finished work by introducing the other twin as an interlocutor who offers a different perspective, with the artist also implicitly present as a third ‘author’ to the biographies. Through this format, Breitz underlines how any biography becomes a negotiation between various relationships, circumstances and desires – not to mention one’s genetic heritage.