‘Wet hair covered one of his eyes, soap covered his ear, he looked in the mirror and said, dad look my face moved’.
Created by Berlin-based artist Sebastian Bieniek, Doublefaced 2013 is a series of photographs following the everyday life of a girl with two faces. Drawn on with make-up, the extra faces begin at each eye with carefully placed hair segmenting the model’s face. Bieniek first came up with the idea while playing with his son during bath time, describing to Junk Culture how ‘wet hair covered one of his eyes, soap covered his ear, he looked in the mirror and said, dad look my face moved’.
We follow doublefaced girl through her daily routine, from relaxing with coffee in bed to travelling on the subway. Playing with angles and depth is a consistent feature, using mirrors, reflections and objects—including a gun and a branch—to partially conceal the model’s own face, leaving us with this newcharacter. Although she appears alone each time, there is nothing sad or pitiful about her—in fact, she seems intriguing and we’re left wanting to know more.
For such a simple concept, it’s also pretty unsettling. Human faces are fundamental in everyday interaction, so if we can’t recognise emotion or normal characteristics then it instantly makes us feel uneasy. In this way it is similar Rut Mackel’s project The Ugly Truth, which involved models holding their faces against a glass panel, leaving strange deformities. The aim was to challenge our view of aesthetic appearances, however, we can’t help changing our perception of someone if they are disfigured because we inextricably linkidentity with looks. That’s why, no matter how sweet, friendly or normal doublefaced girl seems, we’ll always be left with a strange aftertaste.
Although, there’s something just as important that this series gets at. It reveals the possibilities of creating characters throughphotography, showing that you don’t need any kind of expensive technology to make an impact. It’s a display of playful imagination and resourcefulness, making use of what’s readily available.