Baldi’s exhibition unfolds around the video Play-White (2019), which the artist presents as a loose adaptation of African-American writer Nella Larsen’s novel Passing. In South Africa, “play white” is a common term for Black or biracial people who, as a ruse, pass themselves off as white. Baldi’s appropriation of this racist term engages in a hybrid reflection on the unstable nature of identity. The video juxtaposes images that were filmed at the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography in Marseille with a polyphonic story narrated in a voice-over portraying three “white” voices, who are sometimes interrupted by the powerful singing voice of a Whitney Houston impersonator singing excerpts of the song I Have Nothing. On screen, the behavior of a cuttlefish temporarily removed from its natural environment alters its own pigmentation in response to quotes taken from the novel.
Exhibition produced in partnership with Diagonale.
The exhibition received financial support from Flanders State of the Art.