TIME Art

See the Dramatic Differences Between Identical Twins Over Time

How does life imprint itself on the face?

Chinese artist Gao Rongguo has created a series of portrait photographs that are both beautiful and emotional. In these portraits of identical twins from Gao’s native China, the impact life has on our faces and bodies is made immediately clear.

In the formal portraits, the twins are posed looking at each other, making it impossible not to compare the differences between the two. One twin might be shorter, or have more wrinkles, a few added spots, or lost more hair. For the artist, the series is a metaphor for how fate shapes life, and how even people born in the same era can have vastly different experiences.

Gao’s twins are all over 50 years old—old enough to know their fate, Gao writes. This also means that the portrait subjects have lived through some of their country’s biggest upheavals. That experience is imprinted on their faces.

The last portrait in the series is the most impactful. On the right, a man stands in profile, while on the left there is just an empty landscape—his twin’s life ended before his did.

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