“By looking at me you will not know what I am. I am white, but I am black. Slowly the personal side of this story kept gnawing at me more and more, and before I knew it this project was totally about me. Through this series, I discovered who I am genetically,”
Worldwide, Puerto Rico has the highest prevalence of albinism and Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (a type of albinism with a bleeding tendency and lung disease that has also been studied most frequently among Puerto Ricans, observed in five of every six albinos in Puerto Rico). Not all people diagnosed with albinism show the "typical" and distinguishing traits such as light hair, skin and eyes.
“I came up with ‘Clear As Black’ because I felt it represented exactly what it was that I had been seeing for three months in Puerto Rico: white people that are black, and black people that are white and all the visual representations of that. In the same way, ‘Clear As Black,’ is telling about me.”
With her series "Clear As Black", Adriana Monsalve confronts her own "story of being classified based on looks" and aims to break away "from the narrative of seeing persons with albinism as 'other'".
“I wanted to highlighted (sic.) the fact that they are people before they are ‘albinos.’ They are people with a condition called albinism and they live interesting lives just like you and me, full of layers and puberty, and racism and prejudice and romance and academic achievements and religious views and break-ups and lust an family drama and everything that makes them a whole person.”
“I’ve always found the rule in photography about how you should not mix color photos with black and whites in a series to be silly. My story has so much to do with skin color and lack [thereof], so I am going at against that rule for my benefit and the benefit of the story.”
“That’s what this series is about: changing what the word ‘albino’ means, and ultimately taking it out of our lexicon. I am showing a broader more expansive narrative of what people with albinism look like.”
- photographs and information via
- Witkop et al., (1990). Albinism and Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome in Puerto Rico. Boletín de la Asociación Medica de Puerto Rico, 82(8), 333-339