Martin Schoeller's new show "Identical: Portraits of Twins" at ACE gallery in Beverly Hills is interesting enough on its own, but the opening this past Saturday was an unusual and memorable experience that, quite literally, made this L.A. Weekly reporter do more than a few double takes.
The party featured a rare Los Angeles appearance by the sublimely beautiful and exceptionally talented duo known as the Harp Twins, Camille and Kennerly Kitt. Also in attendance were dozens of pairs of identical twins. Twins of all ages, ethnicities, and professions crowded the lofty space, mingling and sipping cocktails as the strains of such tunes as Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and Rihanna's "Disturbia" lilted from the two golden concert grand harps and collective 20 fingers of Camille and Kennerly, transformed from gritty rock and pop into something that sounds downright angelic.
German-born New York based artist and photographer Schoeller, known for his "hyper-detailed" close up portraits, discovered the twins when they were featured, along with some of the works in the show, in the January 2012 National Geographic.
Known on YouTube for their entirely self-produced and self-styled music videos covering everything from The Smiths to Coldplay to AC/DC to Lady Gaga, the Harp Twins have been gaining more and more fame with each passing video and performance.
With their super-model good looks, fabulously trendy costumes and undeniable musical skills, the Harp Twins have played at several major political functions, (most recently the Abraham Lincoln Association Lincoln Banquet where President Obama was the keynote speaker and a dinner honoring former Vice President Dick Cheney) and countless other fashionable receptions and parties.
Particularly responsible for some of their rapidly-growing online following are their harp duet covers of the theme songs of popular TV, movie and video games such as Game of Thrones, Lord of The Rings, and Skyrim. But do they really nerd-out on these things?
The Harp Twins' "Highway to Hell"
"Some of our covers are songs that were specifically requested for live performances, many are top fan requested songs, and some are songs that we choose for fun," they say via email. "For example, we are huge fans of The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and The Hobbit/LOTR so we decided to cover the themes. We also love covering video game and soundtrack music because the music is complex, gorgeous and epic!"
The Harp Twins are also distinguished rifle marksmen and third degree black belts in Tae Kwon Do. "We were Tae Kwon Do instructors for several years," they say. "However, we can't practice martial arts much anymore because we decided we have to protect our hands/fingers. Kennerly has broken two fingers while sparring and Camille required stitches in her face because of a puncture wound from holding a board that Kennerly was breaking."
At the opening at ACE gallery there was a sense of the surreal, being surrounded by so many pairs of people who look exactly alike, and it raised some questions about not only etiquette, but the possible frustration of being perceived as a clone.
One pair of adult male identical twins at the opening (who asked to remain anonymous) said they were basically fed up with people not treating them as separate individuals. For Camille and Kennerly however, being identical twins has always been a positive experience.
"We are never offended when people can't tell us apart," they say. "Looking alike is the way we were born and we've never known life any differently. We think it is strange that some people find twins 'creepy,' but we think that people are sometimes wary of things that they don't understand....We love being 'different' together...We've never spent more than part of a day apart."
In case you're curious, when asked at the opening about the secret to telling them apart from each other, Kennerly (the younger of the two) told me that she has a small freckle on the right side of her mouth.
You can expect to see more of the Chicago-based Harp Twins soon, as they have small roles in the upcoming film The Delivery Man with Vince Vaughn -- plus five more harp duets, already filmed.
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Martin Schoeller's "Identical: Portraits of Twins"is on display at ACE Gallery in Beverly Hills until June. To learn more about the Harp Twins, subscribe to them on Youtube and Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @CamilleKennerly. For more information, check out their website www.HarpTwins.com