Traveling with Peregrine Honig’s American-Argentinian Twin Boys / Art21

Peregrine Honig. “Analogue Tendril, 2012. Monoprint & lithograph on water-based silkscreen. Photo: EG Schempf. Courtesy the artist.

Peregrine Honig’s experience at the Proyecto Áce Residency in Buenos Aires, Argentina, attuned her senses to an unfamiliar culture as well as her American roots. This sentiment is reflected in the image she honed at the residency: Analogue Tendril, a silkscreen series of two blonde-haired, blue-eyed boys gazing vacantly into a nether space. Honig carried the first phase of this work with her from America to Argentina, multiplying and twinning the imagery before returning home to the United States. Working on this piece at Proyecto added to it cross-cultural meaning, reflecting both Argentina’s political turmoil and loss of wealth post-World War II, and a contemporary American culture rife with wealthy youth.

Initially, Honig was drawn to an image of a boy in a fashion magazine, which she recreate, drawing a younger version of him. “I felt out of my element when I was working with this piece,” says Honig. After making the drawing, however, she began to notice the character’s likenesses around her in Argentina. ”The boys were almost extreme–blonde-haired, blue-eyed boys in Argentina where a lot of people were dark-haired with dark eyes.”

Honig was aware that Argentina had been a common destination for Nazis after World War II; a network of Argentinian collaborators helped them escape from Allied forces in Europe. Dinko Sakic, former commander of the Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia–where unspeakable atrocities were committed against mostly Serbs, Jews and Roma–was discovered in Argentina in 1999, more than 50 years after the war’s end. He had been living there under his real name and making no attempt to conceal his identity.

The boys depicted in Analogue Tendril connect to this history and also a “twin town“ in the village of Candido Godo in neighboring Brazil. An Argentinian researcher discovered that the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, also known as the “Angel of Death,” had lived there post-war, and was responsible for the high number of blonde-haired, blue-eyed twins born in this village. Mengele was studying the genetic quirk that produces twins, which he would use to, artificially, increase the Aryan birthrate for Hitler.

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