The photographer Carrie Will has made her presence known in recent years with pictures in several regional juried shows - now a solo exhibition at Siena College’s Yates Gallery offers the first local opportunity to look at a full body of her work. Presented in a diaristic mode, I Am Redundant includes 13 medium-sized color prints, all of which are double self-portraits. That is, Will is an identical twin, and the portraits are of her sister and herself (you can see her portfolio by clicking here).
Tagged with the quote “I am redundant, half of a whole, a freak, identical and lucky,” the collection belies this statement by demonstrating (perhaps without intending to) that the two sisters are in fact not quite physically identical, and that each has a distinctly different personal presence.
This contrast is most apparent in the image titled Williamsburg, where the two sit in a gritty outdoor part of New York City, facing the camera. Rikki, the darker sister identifiable from the show’s first picture, which sorts them out by shirt color, slumps miserably, while the brighter Carrie holds herself up firmly and optimistically.
These pictures may be total fictions – it’s hard to tell. Do the young women come from a privileged home (like Tina barney, a photographer this work recalls), or are images such as the one taken in a sumptuous and multi-arched “Dining Room” made in other people’s spaces? It doesn’t really matter – these are the kinds of questions the genre prefers to ask rather than answer.
What appears to be real, however, is the intense relationship between the two sisters. In several of the pictures, they are locked in an intense embrace. One wonders whether Rikki is also an artist; or if Carrie, who is an artist, is actually the better adjusted twin. Is she supporting the emotional struggles of the seemingly troubled Rikki?
I’ve never been a big fan of the storytelling, girls-playing-dress-up style of photography that has been so popular since Cindy Sherman's heyday, but Will brings a deft touch to the category with her refined sense of color and form, and her understated ironies.
Please forgive the late notice, as there is only about a week left to see this show – it ends on March 4 - but it's worth a look if you can fit it in.