Pantone is known for its color matching system, often used in fashion, printing and painting. But Angélica Dass is using the famous swatches for something even more exciting: creating a dialogue around ethnic diversity.
The Madrid-based photographer (pictured above) has been working on her project Humanaesince April 2012, taking portraits of people and matching their skin tones to Pantone hues to show how wide-ranging the human spectrum really is. There are now more than 2,000 photographs on the project’s Tumblr.
“The inspiration for this project comes from my family roots,” Dass tells Mashable. “I am the granddaughter of black and native Brazilians, and the daughter of a black father adopted by a white family. So, I am a mixture of diverse pigments. Humanae is a pursuit for highlighting our true colors, rather than the untrue and clichéd red and yellow, black and white.”
For Dass, the project is like a game of “subverting our codes” — challenging the ideas and labels of social and personal identity.
“What we have learned in social, linguistic or cultural contexts tend to distract us from everyday nuances that I would like to rethink,” she says.
Humanae originally began as Dass’ final work for a master’s degree in art photography. The first images were taken of her family in Brazil, and then she began posting announcements via social media, inviting anyone to be involved. Eventually, she took portraits in galleries, art fairs, favelas, NGOs, the UNESCO headquarters and many other places.
Dass says the project is a work in progress; “infinite and unfinished.”She will stop one day, but she feels it’s important, at least symbolically, to highlight people from each continent. The current 2,000 portraits come from Madrid, Barcelona, Winterthur, Switzerland, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paris and Chicago.
The project has already generated a lot of discussion, including being used in educational textbooks, as a tool for teachers to talk about equality, and by scientists to illustrate research in optical physiology. It also helps children to identify themselves as unique.
“The audience is free to read into it. The ultimate goal is to use the Internet to provoke a discussion on ethnic identity, creating images that lead us to match [ourselves] independently from factors such as nationality, origin, economic status, age or aesthetic standards,” Dass says.
“We cannot fit [ourselves into] codes. We are just humans.”