In her project "Humanae", Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass creates a catalogue of skin tones by matching 11x11 pixel swatches from posing volunteers' faces witch Pantone colours. The project has no limits as every volunteer is welcome to participate no matter which age, gender, ethnicity, religion, or social class. And there is no time limit either, no deadline by which the project has to be finished (via).
Here is a part of the feature shot interview with the photographer (via):
What was your inspiration for using Pantone colors to represent humans?
“If what I wanted was to destroy the concepts of colors associated with race, such as red, yellow, white and black, it would not be logical to use a color scale that works with percentages of these colors. That’s why I chose not to use CMYK or RGB. Pantone works on a neutral scale, where a color has no more importance than another. It’s a very identifiable scale for those in the world of design, but also easily understood by anyone. It provides a way to look objectively at the ‘human object.'”
How do you go about finding subjects for your work and what are the criteria you are looking for?
“There is no selection criteria. I make public announcements through social networks. To ensure diversity in the project, I work at spaces that are not only in the art world, too. The 2000 images in the project have been made in galleries and art fairs, but also in urban favelas, in NGOs, at the headquarters of UNESCO, and in cooperatives that work with the homeless.
“Not only are there a mix of faces and colors, but a mix of social classes, religions, sexual orientations, political elections, economic status—together in Humanae we cannot be confined to these codes. So far I have taken portraits in seven cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Winterthur, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paris, and Chicago. My minimum goal is to make portraits on all the five continents.”
By identifying your subjects by Pantone color rather than ethnicity/color of origin/name/occupation, etc., what commentary do you hope to make about their identities and the relationship between them?
“It is a kind of game for subverting our codes. The ultimate goal is to provoke discussion about ethnic identity, creating images that lead us to identify each other independent from factors such as nationality, origin, economic status, age, or aesthetic standards. The most important thing for me is the dialogue Humanae has generated outside of the existing conversation. For example, Humanae has been used in educational textbooks by teachers who use it as a tool to talk about equality, appropriation for new artists who are interested in the physiognomic variety in the project, or scientists who use it to illustrate their research.”
"A photographic taxonomy of these proportions has been rarely undertaken; those who preceded Angélica Dass were characters of the 19th century that, for various reasons - legal, medical, administrative, or anthropological - used photographs to establish different types of social control of the power. The best-known is that of the portraits of identity, initiated by Alphonse Bertillon and now used universally. However, this taxonomy close to Borges´ world, adopts the format of the PANTONE ® guides, which gives the collection a degree of hierarchical horizontality that dilutes the false preeminence of some races over others based on skin color or social condition."
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