A new visual art project by Brazilian photographer Angelica Dass, Humanae aims to expose and celebrate variation in skin tone.
The piece consists of a series of portrait photographs, a mixture of men and women of an overwhelming number of ethnicities. By selecting an 11-pixel square from the nose of each subject Dass then colour matches the skin tone to its Pantone industrial palette shade. The corresponding colour then becomes the background for the portrait, and so is born a Dulux-like selection of the variations in human skin tone across the globe.
Elegant, stunning and emotional, Dass captures a vulnerability in nakedness and the ephemerality of race and colour, celebrating and simplifying what skin colour means in the context of identity.
The finished product comes up as a mosaic of culture and race, catalysing a conversation for unity and the beauty in difference.
From a culturally eclectic family in Rio De Janeiro, Dass is no stranger to the emotional complexity in searching for identity and a sense of belonging. In a recent Ted X discussion Dass proffered;
“Every time I take a picture, I feel that I am sitting in front of a therapist… All the frustration, fear, and loneliness that I once felt… Becomes love.”
While colour does encompass so much of our culture and identity, Angelica Dass pushes our thinking away from the divide ethnicity can bring and into the honest fragility of skin colour and the spectrum of experience.
Humanae speaks such volumes as a piece of art and visual essay for race and colour in our world, one cannot help but feel short circuited at just how beautifully Dass explores an idea that is so fraught with controversy and division.