Wendy McMurdo (Doppelgängers)

Wendy McMurdo is a British artist from Edinburgh, Scotland specialized in photography and digital media.  In her work “Doppelgängers”, McMurdo creates photographs of children who seem alienated from their environment by the use of multiple images of the same sitter.  She explains the idea of Doppelgängers in an interview with Sheila Lawson (April/May 1995):

“Freud’s text on the uncanny, written in 1919, is useful here. He attempts to describe the uncanny, defining it as arising from a number of fears or anxieties. In the case of these images, there are perhaps three major fears which result in a feeling of the uncanny. First, he states that the uncanny is aroused when we have ‘Doubts as to whether an apparently inanimate being is really alive’ (an anxiety as to the relationship between animism and mechanism — fear of the automaton); second, we fear the loss of sight (implied when we fear that only one of the real sitters is present, hence the rest must be sightless); and thirdly, we harbour a fear of what Freud describes as one of the most prominent themes of uncanniness, that is the idea of the double or Doppelgänger”.  __ Wendy McMurdo

Gilda Williams explains the meaning of a Doppelgänger:  “A Doppelgänger is a mythical monster of German folklore who randomly chooses an innocent person and pursues them in their shadows, observing their habits, appearances, expressions and idiosyncrasies.  As time passes the Doppelgängerstarts to look like his selected victim, behave like them, and eventually becomes and even replaces that person, without anyone noticing.  The word itself is made of two, derived from the German doppel (double) + ganger (a modification of gehen, ‘to go’)”. –  Gilda Williams – Identity Twins, The work of Wendy McMurdo.




I have been comparing my photographs of my assignment to these photographs of Wendy McMurdo especially the one tutor Jayne referred to as a promotional shot for IKEA see below:



My work sometimes ends up superficially commercial although I do not intend for it to be so because of the excessive garishness.  McMurdo’s work is more concerned about the space that surrounds her figure not the figure itself.  The gaze of her subject’s are never met which adds mystery to her work and the theatrical lighting used adds extra impact to her photographs.


Bibliography / References:

Lawson, S. (April/May 1995).  Dopplegangers  [online].   Wendy McMurdo. Available from: http://wendymcmurdo.com/text/dopplegangers/ [Accessed 3 September, 2017].

Williams, G.  Identity Twins, The work of Wendy McMurdo [online]. Available from:  http://wendymcmurdo.com/mothership/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/7aa.Wendy-McMurdo-Salamanca-monograph-essay.pdf   [Accessed 3 September, 2017].



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