Anyone that knows a pair of identical twins, especially as a child, will have had the wool pulled over their eyes at some point by a cunning T-shirt switch or hairstyle change. But despite being almost genetically identical, monozygotic twins bear just enough differences to be told apart. Their fingerprints, for example, will share the same loops, whorls and ridges but will differ in the minutiae, due to the different positions each twin occupies in the womb.
Photographer Alma Haser was fascinated by the tension between similarity and difference that twins possess and began photographing them, only later deciding to scramble their images part-way through the process. “The symmetry of two exact people existing is amazing to me,” says Alma. “When I started to photograph them separately, I noticed the differences. It led me to the idea of using an exact identical die-cut puzzle and mixing them up to create a new set of twins.”
Alma’s approach to photograph is often very hands-on. In the past she’s cut, folded, woven and ripped her photographs to get a final, almost sculptural image. “My aesthetic and style is very grainy, defused colour. When I print my work out to manipulate it, it pics up the grain of the paper and saturates the colour,” she explains.
At first Alma thought that she would just exchange a few pieces around the face, but the effect wasn’t as dramatic as she’d hoped. “it wasn’t as unusual or striking, and I felt it also resembled my Cosmic Surgery series a little too much,” she says. Alma then decided to switch alternate puzzle pieces, testing the new idea out on one set before committing to the idea across the set. “It’s very much an experimental, unknown process, as I really don’t know where the eyes, mouth and such, will be in the final portrait, or whether it will be recognisable at all,” she says. “But that’s something I quite like.”
The process has been used as part of an Alzheimer’s awareness campaign, featured as an artwork in Netflix series Russian Doll and has won Alma a few private art commissions. As a concept it has taken on extra significance since Alma became pregnant during the project. “It’s almost like the process of genetics – creating a new person,” she laughs.