A friend directed me to a an article about a project developed by photo-based artist, Stacey Tyrell. Entitled “Backra Bluid,” the project is meant to explore the complexities of mixed heritage. In a series of portraits, Tyrell dons white face as a way of examining elements of her heritage that she has found it difficult to discuss outside of her immediate family. The project’s name itself – “Backra Bluid” – gestures to this mixture, drawing in the West Indian Creole word for white/master and the Scottish word for blood and kin.
In her own words:
“The characters in my images are a way of trying to subvert and maybe even co-opt the white mainstream gaze that I feel that myself and every other non-white person is constantly under,” she concluded. “Too often the term ‘black’ is used to describe millions of people worldwide without consideration that within that category there is a rich tapestry of thousands of cultures, identities and genetic makeups that are interconnected with other races. I really wish to contribute to a greater discourse that I feel needs to open up surrounding the very loaded notion of racial identity.”
These images are curious – pristine, posed, utterly unnatural… and too perfect. I don’t know what I would have thought if I’d passed one of them in an advertisement. Or even if I saw one hanging in a gallery. The effect, for me, emerges when I look at them one after another after another after another. Suddenly it’s as if the whole artifice of racial categorization opens up, blows apart, and resettles in a whole new way….
You can read more here.