The double trouble Paper Twins show at Get This! Gallery is a tale of two Southern ladies, one whose family hails from Mississippi and the other from the still deeper South of Peru. Both have a shared yen for the emotional undertow of a home left far behind. In Gone With the Twins, the pair offers an ironic nod to that central fiction in the South's self-aggrandizement, of a plucky miss with dirt under her nails triumphing over adversity and some damn Yankees. Post-modernist ladies aware of the past's slippery nature, the Paper Twins qualify their show with the caveat "don't be fooled; experiences and stories are distorted with time."
A little background first. Distinguished by their gender and style, the Twins have been throwing up their richly detailed wheat pastes on walls (and occasionally in galleries such as Mint) around Atlanta since the summer of 2009. The Paper Twins' street art often features adventurous indie girls who don't just occupy urban space but interact with it. Their images feel literary and shaded next to the blaring Krylon dips and swirls of some of their boy cohorts. Gone With the Twins is a move in a deeper direction toward something more complete and resonant you long to see incorporated into the public sphere.
In order to protect their anonymity, the Twins have adopted the aliases of Edgar and Nica. While their looking homeward is a shared strain of Gone with the Twins, their styles are distinct. Nica's characters, who have expressions more limned with worry and suffering than Edgar's, are ablaze with evocative tropical color: clothing and Crayola houses and Peruvian streets decorated with neon-hued political posters. Like most everything remembered, there's a shimmer of hyperbolic nostalgia, acknowledged in the funny airbrushed signs on the gallery wall advertising their own show in Spanish.
If Nica's palette is the color of earth, bright sun and the ebullient chords of the Peruvian folk music played in the gallery, Edgar takes her hues from faded cotton dresses and experience worn away to memory. A gallery wall covered in individual spray-paint blossoms called "Wallpaper Flowers" suggests '20s wallpaper whose background has faded to leave only the after-images of fat magnolias.
Edgar's wooden cutouts of people and animals plunked onto islands of real grass in the gallery space are like alt-paper dolls with far more complex backstories. "Pet Them Gently; Kill Them Quickly" features the artist's great-grandmother gripping a serious knife behind her back as she creeps up on a pitifully oblivious lamb. Tiny details — a peek of yellow underwear, the use of live grass, a penumbra of sand around one of Nica's Peruvian figures — are a portal to something greater than the part. Such gestures of "authenticity" give the show a vivid, slightly subversive edge that recalls the similar outlaw vantage of the street. Because as much as they offer references to relations and native lands, the artists also seem to engage in a strain of self-mythologizing that would, ironically, do Scarlett proud.