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Play White (2019)

Bianca Baldi

Bianca Baldi portrays ‘borrowed’ and lost stories in installations consisting of photos, films, text and publications. The stylistic act plays an important role in the work of Bianca Baldi: by ‘pretending’ the artist connects with the history of narrative film, studio photography and the trompe l’oeil effect. Narrative principles and hidden power structures surface in her video installations. They clarify how political, economic and cultural influences interact.

Play-White collects under the character of Clare literary elements that fall under the genre of the Tragic Mulatta. This character is typically described as being tormented by an intense sadness that stems from not being accepted by both communities. One such character is the figure of Clare Kendry from Nella Larsen’s twentieth century novel Passing. The story portrays the character of Clare Kendry, living in Harlem, New York, who attempts to go through life as a white woman, which leads to a dramatic series of events.

Central to the film is the artist’s research into the phenomenon of Versipellis, a physical trait derived from Latin that literally means ‘one who changes skin’. Cuttlefish for instance, who, by changing the colour of their skin, are able to escape their enemies. In this video installation by Bianca Baldi the cuttlefish, also called sepia, is presented as both the creature that won’t be pinned down to one colour as well as the source of the pigment of sepia. Sepia is often used in photography in the context of archiving, due to the pigment’s resistance to ageing processes, thus helping to preserve certain historical stories for posterity.

Credits: Play-White (2019), video, 10:45’’ (looped), colour, stereo. Courtesy Bianca Baldi. Assistant director: Romain Boniface. Camera: Bianca Baldi and Romain Boniface. Editing: Liyo Gong, Bianca Baldi and Romain Boniface. Post-production: GVN 108. Sound design: François Boulanger. Colourist: Maxime Tellier. Filmed at MIO Institut Méditerranéen d’océanologie, Marseille.
Skin Talk (2019), silk, silk paint, 92 x 345 cm. Courtesy Bianca Baldi.

With the support of Hessische Kulturstiftung.