The artist who reveals our Pantone shades

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The artist who reveals our Pantone shades
Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass exposes – and subverts – racial prejudices with her Humanae project. She tells BBC Culture what inspired her, and how it can help challenge norms.


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“Growing up in a family with all of these flavours and colours, I never understood why we have this small classification of people as black, white, red or yellow that are the colours associated with race.” Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass was inspired to begin her Humanae project in 2012, after marrying a Spaniard.

“He’s very pink, like a kind of lobster when he gets the sun. And one question started to chase me – what would be the colour of my children?” She tells BBC Culture in this video filmed at London’s Migration Museum.

Dass decided to photograph volunteers of different skin tones, and match a square of 11 pixels from their noses to a corresponding shade in the industrial palette Pantone, placing their photo against a background of that colour.

In the past five years, she has taken portraits of about 4,000 people in 17 countries and 27 cities around the world – and her 2016 TEDx talk has had more than 2 million views. Dass has just captured the faces of Londoners for the Migration Museum’s No Turning Back exhibition.

She tells BBC Culture about the inspiration for her work – and how it can help us find new ways of talking about race. “Centuries ago we believed that the Earth was flat, and suddenly we were able to change that and think that it’s round,” she says. “I really believe that, linguistically, we can change this kind of discussion.”

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