Hot Docs review: Witkin & Witkin

Art enthusiasts will love this doc about artistic identical twins Joel-Peter and Jerome Witkin, whose life-long estrangement gives the doc a satisfying through line

WITKIN & WITKIN (Trisha Ziff, Mexico). 93 minutes. Rating: NNN

You may already be familiar with Joel-Peter Witkin. The photographer’s provocative work ranges from the elegantly grotesque, like a dismembered head used as a flowerpot, to stately images where marginalized bodies are either empowered or exploited depending on who you ask.

As Trisha Ziff’s doc points out, his influence hovers over Nine Inch Nails and Alexander McQueen. The film is equally interested in Joel’s lesser-known identical twin, Jerome, an equally fascinating painter and arts professor.

Their individual processes and influences is great fodder for art enthusiasts, but the brothers’ peculiar and purposeful life-long estrangement is what gives the doc (and the Witkin & Witkin exhibit from which it extends) a through line. I doubt the distinctions and commonalities between them are enough to fill an art-school essay.

May 1, 6:15 pm, Scotiabank 4 May 3, 1:15 pm, Isabel Bader May 5, 10:30 am, TIFF 3

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