Play-White

Bianca Baldi

Publication by Bianca Baldi

With contributions by Bianca Baldi, Mika Conradie, Shoniqua Roach, Amy Watson, and others; design by Katharina Tauer & Wolfgang Hückel in collaboration with K. Verlag

The racist term 'play-white' dates back to the apartheid era, when it referred to a black or mixed-race person living like a white person: "So and so is a play-white." South African artist Bianca Baldi draws on studies of biomimicry and her own family history, as well as literary precedents - such as Nella Larsen's novel Passing (1929) - to reflect on racial transition and the instability of racial identities. Play-White alternates between layers of visualisation and moments of discretion to explore questions of presence and avoidance beyond their representation in black and white.

The publication is produced in conjunction with Baldi's solo exhibition Cameo at Grazer Kunstverein, Spring 2021. In 2019 the work Play-White was shown as part of Alias at Netwerk Aalst. The title 'Cameo' refers to the mechanisms that come into play when a person develops an identity outside their own. In sociology, the term 'passing' refers to the phenomenon whereby an individual can be identified as belonging to an identity group or category other than his own. This may include racial identity, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age and/or disability.

Play-White is part of The Astronaut Metaphor (2020-2022), an evolving programme on politics, aesthetics, and the human at Netwerk Aalst.

The book is available on the website of Idea Books and K. Verlag.