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Artist’s Project: Jane and Louise Wilson

By Jane and Louise Wilson

ESOPUS 24 (Spring 2017)
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British artists Jane and Louise Wilson have long been fascinated by the abandoned ruins of centers of power, particularly those related to the Cold War (for instance, their acclaimed 1997 installation Stasi City). For Imperial Measure, the artists present a series of work incorporating photographs of Pripyat—a Ukrainian city built in the 1970s to house workers from nearby Chernobyl—before and after the nuclear disaster. Each photograph is superimposed with images of yardsticks arranged in various lattice-like patterns. The Wilsons’ project also includes an expandable facsimile yardstick, which readers can employ to “measure”—or just embellish—these images, or any others that may prove to be equally mute in the face of scientific quantification. 

Twin sisters Jane and Louise Wilson were born in 1967 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. They both received M.A. degrees in 1992 from Goldsmiths College in London and promptly gained critical attention for their immersive, and at times menacing, photographs and video installations. In 1999, the Wilson sisters were shortlisted for the Turner Prize, and their art has since been the subject of exhibitions at Kunsthalle Hamburg (1999); the Tate Gallery, London (2000); Kunst-Werke Berlin (2002); Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon (2010); and the Imperial War Museums, London (2015); as well as numerous group exhibitions in Europe, the United States, Asia, and the Middle East. Their publications include Jane and Louise Wilson (Ellipsis London Ltd., 2001) and Erewhon (University of Houston, 2005). In 2005, the Wilson sisters were invited by the Royal Opera House in London to design sets for its production of Michael Tippett’s The Knot Garden. Based in London, they are represented by 303 Gallery in New York.