Human pantone

Believe it or not, every visit to the chemist/drugstore entails some subtle racial undertones. Check out the product descriptions, next time you’re there – from ‘skin-tone’ band-aids/plasters to ‘nude’ nail polish. We tend not to dwell on these naming subtleties, but in truth, the way commercial colours and products are named can be really restrictive.

French artist Pierre David was invited by the Museum of Modern Art Brazil to create an installation that addressed identity and diversity in South America. Hoping to involve Brazilian people directly in the project, Pierre asked 40 museum employees and art students to pose shirtless in a series of portraits. He then organised the shots into a Pantone-inspired swatch library, and asked an industrial paint company to mix 40 cans of paint to match the participants. The final exhibit features a ‘swatch’ library of colours and a line-up of paint cans labelled with the features of each model – a simple way to illustrate that ‘nude’ is a spectrum, not a single shade.