Mercedes-Benz Financial Services

Natalie Waldburger

The Only One Here

2009, Encaustic on panel, 36"w x 36"h x 2"d

Folie à Deux

“A condition in which two closely related persons, usually in the same family, share the same delusion.”

Implicit in the idea of the double madness of Folie à Deux is the twin. This “twinly madness,” as the term was originally referred to, is a doubling of singular delusions. This work makes a case for the double madness of the single person, an illusion of twin. The folly lies in the delusion shared with a phantom twin. It is possible that many singletons, that is, people born alone — not as a twin, started life as a twin in fetal development. It has been suggested that, in competition for resources, one fetus absorbs the other during pregnancy. Several medical and scientific theories make a case for this possibility by citing the frequent discoveries in adults of cysts containing bits of hair, teeth and spinal tissue. These are believed to be signs of a “vanished twin.” The Vanished Twin is that ‘perfect Other’. The ‘Other’ that is at once equal but different, promising eternal companionship and understanding because it is, although other, identical. It is an Other that exists as a potential. The vanished and vanquished twin bridges the lamentable loss of identity. The flip side of this coin is the conjoined twin, the ‘Siamese’ twin, the Doppelgänger. This is the inescapable twin. The uncanny, perfect Other that can never be eluded. It is a twinship into which one is born and the death of which marks one’s own demise. A twinning of one, a delusion of two. These tightropes are crossed with some trepidation as they call into question a singular self-identity, but they also muse on the nature of madness and companionship. It is a bittersweet idea, “while the vanished twin assures us of a sempiternal human link, it affords us also the pathos of inexpressible loss.”

Natalie Waldburger - The Only One Here

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