meet jalan and jibril, the twin photographers taking the industry by storm
With genes so nice, they made them twice.
Jalan and Jibril Durimel: models, photographers, but above all identical twins. The yin to each other's yang they balance each other out perfectly. Jibril is the more proactive one, stern like his father, while Jalan takes after his mother, kind and caring. Born in Paris, but brought to live with their grandmother in the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe at the age to two, and then onwards to Miami at four, St. Maarten at 12, and eventually Los Angeles at 18, the dynamic duo credit their nomadic upbringing as their main source of inspiration. After a brief stint studying cinema, they realised that filmmaking would require too much help from others to pursue, so they jumped ship and embarked on a career as photographers. We're already huge fans. In fact, they recently photographed the ever-delightful Dev Hynes for The Game-Changing Issue of i-D and Keith Ape for The Future-Wise Issue. With their star firmly in ascendant, we meet the twins du jour to talk French Caribbean fast food, following your dreams and how to make a better future.
How did you get into photography?
Boredom, we were too lazy to paint, and doing film as we initially planned would have required too much help from others. We are very independent and very picky so it was hard for us to get right into cinema after school. There's a certain control you get to keep as a photographer that we like a lot.
What is it about the medium that appeals most to you?
The ability to have full control on freezing one moment in time and using it as a form of communication. Being young artists without much funding for huge production, photography is a more accessible way to stay in artistic control. We do however want to get more into moving image as time goes by.
How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
Our aesthetic is still something we are developing but as of now we definitely are trying to express our tropical Caribbean inspirations. The interesting and confusing part about it is that we aren't really bound to anywhere in particular so there are a lot of avenues that we pull inspiration from that help us diversify our visual expression. Common words that come up when we discuss our methods and mood are "romance", "wit", "surrealism" and "cinema".
Did you always want to be photographers?
Definitely not, we grew up wanting to study culinary arts then in our late high school years we decided to move to LA to study cinema. Photography came in the past two years. We still don't even know if we want to be quote unquote "photographers" and we like it that way. If you don't give something a label you can sort of be whoever you'd like to be. We have this random dream of opening up a food truck in LA that sells French Caribbean fast food; they make it really good in Guadeloupe!
If you weren't photographers, what would you want to be?
Either painters or musicians.
What's your career highlight so far?
The music video we did with our friend Mereba for her song Bet. We are starting to see a lot of avenues are commerce driven but that project felt very honest.
Who or what inspires you?
Freedom - in a large scale and as vague as that sounds.
Whose work do you admire most?
Currently we've been admiring more contemporary painters for their dynamic compositions. We're keen on Titus Kaphar, a painter, as well as the musician Benjamin Clementine for his focus, and our friend Marian Mereba is very special as well.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
"To live life on the edge of uncertainty" - from Chef's Table, Episode 4 - Francis Mallman, it's a must watch!
Can't say for now.
If you could collaborate with one person in the world - dead or alive - who would it be and why?
Our musician friend Marian Mereba that we just did a video with. We like what she's started so continuing our work with her and creating something beautiful would be nice.
Who would play you in the movie of your lives?
Ourselves but the movie would probably be too complicated. Maybe it would be better as a TV series.
What's the naughtiest thing you've ever done?
Thrown eggs and balloons at cars throughout our childhood. Looking back, we realise how bad that could have turned out.
If you were on a desert island, what could you not live without?
Each other to be honest. Not to be cheesy but we've never spent much time apart so it would be tough to be on an island alone. The longest we've spent apart was this past summer. Jibril went to New York for 7 days and before that, we had never spent more than a few hours apart.
What's the best thing about being twins?
There's someone there to let you know when you have crumbs of food on your mouth, literally and metaphorically. It's the honesty; we've really managed to guide each other into the best direction whether it be spiritually or in business. There's always someone to provide you with a reality check too and make you self-reflect.
How would you describe each other?
Jalan on Jibril: Jibril and I are very similar but if I had to describe him alone I'd say he is very much more like our dad; stern, proactive and very feminine in his own way.
Jibril on Jalan: Jalan picked up more from our mum's side. Meaning he is a bit more kind but we balance each other out in a great way.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
Create a stricter schooling system that pushes art classes more. We think that if art is true, it's the best way for someone to express themselves. For us, individuality is key to all problems in our world.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
We want to help influence social change through our work and also show kids like us that it's possible to get to where we are or wherever they want. We want to be consistent, to create work that is true to us, a life like that seems enjoyable and full of adventure in our opinion.
Text Tish Weinstock
Photography Jalan and Jibril