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Cari and Elen's labels

work by Cari Elizabeth Lewis

"Cari Lewis’ practise is a critical response to western society’s impact on the childhoods of identical twins and the treatment of twins in general. She focuses on highlighting how young girls are treated within a patriarchal society being expected to act within the constraints of the stereotypes given to them. Her practise explores and centres around identity, hauntology, stereotypes, vulnerability and the bond of identical twins through the medium of moving image.

Lewis’ practise is powered by personal experiences of being categorised and stereotyped paired with emotions of frustration and resentment towards life as an identical twin. In recognition of this, she is also unable to ignore the unique connection she shares with her identical twin.

Initially her practise focused mainly on the connection between herself and her identical twin sister and the animosity felt towards being identified as the ‘same’. This gradually progressed into acknowledging the ‘labels’ her identical twin and herself have been given from a young age and how these ‘labels’ have impacted their sense of identity. Lewis highlights effects on mental health and other sociological aspects involving the self-fulfilling prophecy, being a prediction that causes itself to be true due to the behaviour of the believer and the Pygmalion effect whereby the expectation of others of a certain individual affects that individual's performance. She also contemplates the effect parents have on their children’s identities and how they themselves may reinstate the ‘labels’.

Lewis’ current work consists of two separate videos, one video representing each individual, reiterating that identical twins are not to be considered as the ‘same’ or of sharing an identity. She uses a combination of various moving image sources such as home videos, re-enactment and documentation along with text, sound and correlating images of their childhood to convey the key aspects in her work. The decision to show the work on vintage televisions similar to those of the same decade of which Lewis and her identical twin were born, relates to ideas of hauntology and nostalgia.

The artist purposely intended for her work to ooze a sense of juxtaposition as the fond memories of her and her identical twin sister’s childhood are interrupted by the brutality and insensitivity of society embodied by the ‘labels’ applied to them. Lewis aims to use the device of re-enactment to evoke a sense of vulnerability within the work."

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