It's hard to articulate what is so compelling about the photographs in Mary Ellen Mark's latest book, "Twins," but it's impossible not to stare at them. The book gives us license to stare that we don't have in the street.
Could the compulsion to study these pictures in their every detail be connected to the enormous interest in efforts to separate Siamese twins that have so dominated the news recently? Or to the discomfort that so many people have with the idea of cloning fellow humans?
The Polaroid photographs were made on the site of the annual "Twins Days" festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. The book is published by Aperture. Additional images are available at the Web site of the Marianne Boesky Gallery in Manhattan (www.marianneboeskygallery.com), which recently mounted an exhibition of some of the pictures.
Paula Mathis and Polly Mathis Wasdin, 29
Kate and Sarah Shields, 13
John, 72, and Bill Reiff, who died Nov.5, 2000