Twin sisters Noncedo and Nonzuzo Gxekwa have a shared passion for photography, a love that first developed as solace from the constant comparison they endured and the self-esteem knocks it brought growing up. Not being seen as individuals was especially difficult during their teen years, “Things like your name became important otherwise people did not care who they were calling out to and the excuse would be “oh you guys look so similar, we can’t tell you apart”. Then people would look for ways to differentiate us and you would hear things like “Oh this one is ugly or this one fat”. During this time, the sisters turned to photography playing with an old camera passed down by their mother. The realisation that they loved taking pictures became a pursuit – Noncedo went on to study photography while Nonzuzo taught herself the way around a camera.
Both the bad and good experiences that come with living as a twin have become the inspiration behind ‘Carbon Copy’, a collaborative photo project for which the sisters have turned the camera on themselves and hopefully other twins in the near future. They explain, “For as long as we can remember people have always been fascinated about twins…It made you feel like there was something mystical about being a twin. With this project we want to explore the lives of other twins, their stories of what makes them individuals, of what it is like to have a person you are tied to for life since birth and hopefully break down any misconceptions about twins.”
For the first step of the project Noncedo and Nonzuzo shot all the images themselves using a camera on a tripod. In the photographs they wear some of their favourite clothes symbolic of a uniform.
The sisters aim to create an oral archive exploring the mythology around twins to be published alongside their images. To start they have answered some questions themselves, which you can read below, that they hope to ask other twins as they continue with the project.
Follow along at carboncopytwin.tumblr.com
How do you feel about being twins?
Nzuzo: I feel is is a wonderful complex indescribable experience. It is amazing to love someone completely with their flaws and they feel the same about you.
Ncedo: I feel it is a blessing. My sister and I have gotten to a stage where we understand each other. She is my best friend.
How do you feel when people compare one to the other?
Nzuzo: When one was younger, it was not nice…kind of left one with esteem issues but now that one is older I feel I understand that we are different with different strengths and weaknesses and it does not bother me at all.
Ncedo: It saddens me sometimes that people do not understand that you are individuals, you have different traits, bodies and lead different lives.
What is the most challenging thing about being twins?
Nzuzo: I find that when we fight and don’t see eye to eye. It is terrible when you’re sulking and it feels like forever. I also think finding your feet as an individual, like for the longest time you have this person who is your ‘shadow’ then one day you wake and it’s like you are in different cities…can be hard.
Ncedo: When people do not believe that you are twins and they think you are being devious, it comes across as if you are a liar.
What is the most wonderful thing about being twins?
Nzuzo: It is nice to have someone who totally gets you. Like sometimes something would happen, you don’t have to say something to each other yet you know the other one understands and I think that having this one person who is like you is special. It’s hard to put into words.
Ncedo: It’s that you are forever connected to someone, that no matter what happens your twin has your back. You have the most wonderful friendship and love.
What would you like people to know about twins?
Nzuzo: Twins are two different individuals just like them. Being compared to each other is not cool. And now I get the whole fascination about twins…coz that is how I get when I see other twins…especially when you can’t tell them apart..lol
Ncedo: Twins are like everybody else. They are more special because they have a partner for life.