This symposium was centred on the generative short film by Bianca Baldi , Play-White (2019) which explores notions of passing, using excerpts from Nella Larsen’s novel Passing, footage of cuttlefish dancing afloat in seemingly laboratory conditions, being observed and enticed to change the colour of their skin. We see their skin up close, their chromatophores revealing their camouflage secrets. Cuttlefish a point in which I was able to hook onto a narrative to share perspective for the symposium, focusing on the cuttlefish bone that was once freely found washed up along our beaches but are becoming harder to find.

From the website: "Play-White: Racial Passing and Embodied Images, gathers experts, artists, activists and researchers around the theme of image-making in racial passing to ask the following questions: What are the conditions of racial passing when looking at topics such as colonial trade routes, embodiment, shame, class betrayal, code-switching and performativity? What does historical and zoomorphic research bring to our current understanding of racial identity, ethnicity, social class or gender? 

The concept of passing highlights the constructed nature of race and how images are complicit in producing aesthetic thresholds of identity. Knowingly or unknowingly the passer transgresses these identity boundaries. Through personal, historical and zoomorphic research new perspectives on loaded concepts such as image-making and racial passing are proposed in breaking with concepts such as taxonomy and categorisation.

Contributions by Bianca Baldi, POOL (Amy Watson and Mika Conradie), Shoniqua Roach, Sinethemba Twalo, Zayaan Khan, Kate Strain and Pieternel Vermoortel

This symposium is a one-day online event  hosted by Bianca Baldi with Sint Lucas School of Arts Antwerp, ARIA (Antwerp University ), Grazer Kunstverein and Netwerk Aalst. This symposium coincides with a solo exhibition of Bianca Baldi’s work at the Grazer Kunstverein, Austria and the launch of an accompanying artist’s book published by K. Verlag, Berlin. The conference takes place within the framework of Netwerk Aalst’s programme The Astronaut Metaphor." 

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