Doug & Mike Starn


The papers fell from the sky like leaves in the autumn; the leaves are the living heart and soul of trees all summer long . . . . The leaves represent a creative life force and mortality– leaves die and are scattered in the wind, just like the leaves of paper. – Doug and Mike Starn

Singed and torn pieces of paper blew out of the Twin Towers and across the East River into Brooklyn throughout the day on September 11, 2001. Like many others, twin brothers Doug and Mike Starn, artists with a studio near the Brooklyn waterfront, saw the swirling bits of paper. At that time, they had been creating works of art incorporating images of leaves. They sensed a spiritual continuity between the leaves that fall in autumn and the charred World Trade Center papers that had been “someone’s things” and were “somehow vicariously part of the people” who had died. Rather than discard the papers that had drifted toward their studio, or preserve them as historic mementos, they integrated individual pieces of paper into their art, sometimes including both leaves and paper in a single work. They gave the title Fallen to the series.

Doug & Mike Starn portrait
Photograph by Sirio Magnabosco

Doug & Mike Starn

American, b. 1961

Identical twins Doug and Mike Starn began collaborating in the visual arts as students at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. For more than 20 years, they were known primarily for conceptual photography, but they have since gained recognition for projects that merge photography, sculpture, and architecture. The Starns emphasize the materiality of their photographs, often distressing their prints and displaying them in segmented installations loosely attached with pins or tape.