We are Nonzuzo & Noncedo Gxekwa. A photography duo based in Johannesburg & Cape Town.

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Carbon Copy

Carbon Copy is a photo documentary exploring our lives as twins and hopefully other twins. We’re exploring how we feel about being twins, how other people see us and hopefully breaking any misconception about twins.

“Frida Kahlo once said she paints herself because she is the subject she understands best, that is how we feel about ourselves. Because we have shared the same experiences most of our lives, we felt we could tell our story better,” explain the twins.

“We are trying to explore themes of identity, the close relationship between twins, what happens when twins don’t get along. What happens when one dies? In [some South African cultures] the second twin is considered older. What rituals are observed when a twin dies?”

As Zulu twins, the sisters, as is custom, are viewed as one soul split between two bodies. Depending on the family, the surviving twin is either made to lie in the coffin before the deceased twin occupies it, or she is placed in the open grave while family members consult their ancestors. Because they are considered one person, death is only considered complete after both twins have died.

The alliterative aesthetic of duplication 
In their images, they highlight the alliterative aesthetic of duplication in a manner that seems almost too obvious. Two hands lie side by side, crossed at the upper arm, linked by two brass bracelets hanging from each limb. They are dressed in similar clothing, the uniform of uniformity. Two faces glare at you, a pole splitting them in half. They present a pair of disembodied legs: two shoes, two limbs, two knees.

Something unified, something divergent. They hold hands and leap off an embankment together, behaving in concert.

The multiplicity is now a performative gesture. “It’s a way of forcing people to look closer,” they explain. “To see. To pay attention to the differences. To see us as individuals while celebrating our similarities.

“Our artistic approaches are not that different … we go with our feelings. Our approaches may differ towards certain subjects but ultimately the end results are similar.” Noncedo is a trained photographer and contributes the structure and Nonzuzo layers it with a wilder, fresher creative outlook.