This series of watercolour drawings of the Iranian conjoined twins, Ladan and Laleh Bijani, examines and represents two women whose anatomies challenge notions of individuality. The Bijani sisters were born as craniopagus conjoined twins in 1974 in Southern Iran. Although they had separate limbs and bodies Ladan and Laleh’s heads were fused at the skull. In 2003, when they were 29 years old, they underwent separation surgery and died from complications during the surgery.
Although the drawings represent these particular women’s faces, this work is not biographical. I want to acknowledge the fact that these women were real, but I can't possibly represent the specificity of their experience.
The drawings meditate on the physical and psychic relationship between these twins and on a concept of experience that is deeply relational, where the boundaries between self and other can’t be clearly articulated. It provided me with an opportunity to consider our cultural anxiety about what constitutes personhood, singularity and the difference between self and other. Principals of individuality and autonomy are called into question by these subjects whose anatomies challenge notions of individuality.