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5 Fast Facts: Jane and Louise Wilson

Blog Category:  5 Fast Facts
A long, empty corridor with white-tiled walls, floors, and ceiling is lit with a warm glow from the lights that hang in the middle of the ceiling.

Today is National Twin Day. Impress your friends with five fast facts about artist duo Jane and Louise Wilson (b. 1967), whose work is part of NMWA’s collection.

Eery photograph in blue tones of a concrete silo at night.
Jane and Louise Wilson, Silo: Gamma, 1999 (printed 2007); Chromogenic color print, 63 x 106 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection

1. Seeing Double

Jane and Louise Wilson are identical twins born in England in 1967. They attended two different universities but created one joint body of work for their respective degree shows in 1989. Using each other as subjects, they staged photographs in their parent’s home and made two of each work. This collaboration marked the start of a life-long creative partnership.

2. Abandoned Spaces

Many of the Wilsons’ works transport viewers into inaccessible, abandoned places—from a World War I era state sanitarium in New Zealand to a Cold War era U.S. Air Force base in England. They explore the former power of these sites, inserting themselves like ghosts of governments past.

A long, empty corridor with white-tiled walls, floors, and ceiling is lit with a warm glow from the lights that hang in the middle of the ceiling.
Jane and Louise Wilson, North Corridor, Hoover Dam: Las Vegas, 1999; Chromogenic color print on aluminum, 71 x 71 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Jane and Louise Wilson, Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

3. Beyond the Still

They may be most known for their photographs, but the Wilsons’ artistic practice encompass more than just still images. Their large-scale installations include multiple projection screens, larger-than-life prints, and even sculptural elements. HID140415_025 HID140415_027 (2022) is a replica of their shared DNA structure made of steam-formed ash.

4. Measuring Time

You’ll find a yard stick in many of the Wilsons’ works, especially in series including Imperial Measure (2014). They were inspired by their research in the Stanley Kubrick Archive, where they saw many detailed set photographs with the now obsolete tool hinting at human scale without actually including any people.

Color photograph of room with old books on bookshelves that stretch from floor to ceiling. In the center is an open door revealing another room with floor to ceiling shelves filled with books.
Jane and Louise Wilson, Oddments Room II (Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle), 2008; Chromogenic color print, 86 1/2 x 69 1/2 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Jane and Louise Wilson, Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

5. Royal Academicians

In 2018 the artists were elected Royal Academicians, joining the company of NMWA artist Angelica Kauffmann (1741–1807), one of two female founding members of the Royal Academy. The Academy has made progress regarding gender equity since its founding in 1768. It elected its first female president, Rebecca Salter, in 2019.

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