The contemporary artists Jane and Louise are known internationally for installations that incorporate video and other mediums to explore an array of modernist histories. They have trained their cameras on subjects such as the abandoned headquarters of the Stasi and the toxic dump sites of Chernobyl. Their work “Unfolding the Aryan Papers” (2009), developed as a commission by Animate Projects and the British Film Institute, brought the artists into the extensive Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts London. Rather than gravitating toward one of Kubrick’s finished productions, the Wilson sisters focused their investigation on the abandoned project “Aryan Papers.” They were intrigued by the film’s story as well as by its biographical link to Kubrick’s Jewish ancestry.
The Wilson sisters tracked down the actress Johanna ter Steege, whom Kubrick had cast as the film’s protagonist, Tania. Working primarily from photographs of a preproduction wardrobe shoot with ter Steege in the 1990’s, the Wilson sisters set out to restage the period details and poses with the actress, thereby eliciting her memories of the time when she was to play Tania. By interspersing ter Steege’s readings of the original materials with her own recollections of Kubrick, “Unfolding the Aryan Papers” creates a fluid dialogue between personal history and fiction, highlighting the dramatic interest of both the script that never made it to the screen and of Johanna ter Steege’s own story.