In Backra Bluid, Brooklyn-based photographer Stacey Tyrell portrays herself as a white woman by altering her skin colour and making subtle tweaks to her features. Backra is archaic Caribbean slang of West African origin that means “white person.” Bluid is the Scotch word for blood, as well as for kin. In this series Tyrell, draws on her own family history—archaic and ongoing, Scottish and Caribbean—to explore how identities complicate and overlap. Critical of the dualism inherent in Eurocentric constructs of Whiteness and Blackness, Tyrell’s work suggests that most people in post-colonial societies are not easily categorized. Developed through fictitious avatars and dramatic sets, her approach privileges performance and theatricality.
Tyrell studied photography at the Ontario College of Art and Design. In 2012, she was chosen by Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward as a top emerging Canadian photographer. Her work has appeared in exhibitions at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Canadian Museum for Immigration at Pier 21, and at the Center for Photography in Woodstock, NY. Tyrell’s images are included in the collections of Heritage Canada and Montreal Arts Interculturels and have been published in magazines such as, Canadian Art, ARC, Prefix Photo, Applied Arts and the book Pictures from Paradise: A Survey of Contemporary Caribbean Photographers.