'Humanae' Pantone Skin Color Project Showcases Full Spectrum of Humanity
Brazilian Angelica Dass launched an investigation of identity, culture and skin color simply by lifting her camera. The granddaughter of "black" and "native" Brazilians and the daughter of a "black" father raised by "white" adoptive parents, Dass created the Humanae Project with the intention of recording and cataloging all possible human skin tones, highlighting true tones rather than clichéd colors. The 2000 image-strong initiative is a series of portraits, all with the exact Pantone® tone of the subject pronounced in the background; the color extracted from an 11x11 pixel sample of the subject's face.
Humanae began as a final project when Dass was completing her Masters in Art Photography, in April 2012. She started with photographs of family members in Brazil; and within the same year, she made announcements, attracting more participants. Later, the photographer was able to travel, capturing images of women and men in Madrid, Barcelona, Winterthur, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paris and Chicago.
The depth of the project lies not only in the faces and colors of those photographed, but their social classes, religions, sexual orientations, political elections and economic status. The deeply textured project is about equality and it "set out to be a kind of personal-social mirror, and has become a global kaleidoscope for everyone's ideas, and spreading of empathetic sense of humanity."
Dass shared with Latin Post that the infinite and unfinished project has grown beyond her expectations and is used in ways that she's never anticipated.
"Humanae has influenced areas, materials, attitudes, knowledge, human meaning, expression, and communication outside of my control," said Dass, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Scenic and Lighting Design and a BFA in Fashion Design. "It is used in educational textbooks, by teachers who use Humanae as a tool to talk about equality or anthropological realities; appropriation for new artists who are interested in the physiognomic variety of people gathered in the project, scientists who use it to illustrate their research in optical physiology or statistics, or adoptive families tool to discuss or help children to identify themselves as unique."
The very strong and wide impacting venture recognizes the double way of thinking between the photographed and the photographer, and the "dialogue from personal to global; [which is] like a game in which the personal and social codes are put at stake to be reinvented; a continuous flow... the bridge between masks and identity." It also recognizes that the color and shades of human skin are "unlimited," even in one individual. Nonetheless, the Pantone ® scale is limited, but it is a neutral scale that does not place more importance over one color than another, unlike CMYK or RGB, according to Dass.
When asked about inspiration, Dass mentioned that she's always felt that she carried an invisible backpack, one where she put everything that she's learned. And, she occasionally looks into the bag, and considers lessons learned. She browses the bag, mixes lessons and transforms them into new things. Simply put, "Humanae is a creature made from many of my pieces..."
Economic costs for the sessions are normally covered by the artist, partnerships with galleries, or by specific invitations to certain festivals, but she has decided not to associate her project with trademarks or different commercial or advertising proposals, as she feels that she has a responsibility to everyone who's participated in the projects. Also, she isn't backed by any foundations or grants, but would welcome backing that would help her to take her ambitious creations worldwide; so that she can continue to take portraits, hold exhibitions, and make "Humanae as global as humanity," stating that the project no longer solely belongs to her.
Heartened by artists Rosângela Rennó, Erik Kessel, J.R., and Boa Mistura, Dass has committed herself to taking portraits, which she describes as "non-verbal conversations," but has placed no limits on her future.