At first glance, this series by photographer Stacey Tyrell seems to portray nothing out of the ordinary, just portraits of white women living their lives. At closer inspection, however, you realize all of the women look the same; they share uncanny similarities with just a few differences in hair, eye, and skin color. In reality, Stacey Tyrell has staged these scenes representing depictions of Caucasian women using herself as a model. Interestingly enough, the artist herself is black. The title of Tyrell’s deeply memorable series is Backra Bluid. Backra, originating from West Africa, means white master or person. Bluid is a Scotch word for the blood of men or kin. These two words combined represent two different points of origin in the artist’s family heritage. Tyrell explores her ancestry in this series, which includes English, Scottish, and Irish.
Most everyone in post-colonial societies, especially in the Western world, is the descendant of a diverse range of ancestry, producing many individuals with what may appear to be ambiguous ethnicities. These individuals may identify with one, multiple, or even none of their racial or cultural identities. However, by nature, humans want to make sense of their surrounding and tend to place others in categories. Stacey Tyrell has experienced this first hand. She explains the significance of this experience in relation to Backra Bluid.
Upon viewing my physical features I am automatically assigned a racial identity by whoever is looking at me. Skin color often obscures and over-rides the features and markers of other races that may be present in my genetic make-up. By simply changing my skin color and making subtle tweaks to my features I wish to show that if someone were to take a closer look at my face they would see that it might not be that much different from their own.