The Dark Skin Is Photo Project
Dark skin is Photo Project was carried out by Malaysian photographers, Catherhea Teoh and Daniel Adams. It was released on 17th June 2019 and focused on dark skinned individuals. This was the first project of its kind in Malaysia.
Catherhea Teoh, 30, describes her work as one which challenges conventions and especially ideas of beauty standards of certain ethnicities In early 2019, she did a Plus-Size Asian Women Photoshoot. The project aimed to highlight the beauty of these women and also to challenge societal norms on body weight.
Daniel Adams, 24, on the other hand, describes his work as consisting of more conceptualized portraits with a fashion-oriented approach. He often explores social and political issues. His topics of interest include gender, sexuality, culture and religion. Furthermore, Adams is best known for his 2017 photo project, Why is your English so good. In it, he tackled the racism that Asians face while abroad including the annoying question, Why is your English so good?
Why the interest in dark skinned Malaysians
A 2012 estimate gave the population of Afro-Malaysians at 70,000 people. Some are mixtures of African and Asian while others are African immigrants who come to Malaysia for work or school. As with every minority populations, discrimination based on skin color is bound to happen.
The dark skin is photo project aimed to fight misconceptions about dark skin tracing their roots to the colonial times. In addition, it is a celebration of the diversity of dark skin in Malaysia. The Afro-Malaysians featured in the photoshoot also got a chance to discuss their experiences with colorism. Although many had not met prior, it was highly suspect that their experiences were similar.
The choice of dressing for the models was inspired by both Asian and African Cultures. As a result, the Malaysian Kampung styles, traditional Indian dressing and tribal African fabric tying techniques got showcased.
Blue was a color choice by Teoh since it is found in nature. In her words, blue represents water that is essential for our survival.
Finally, the pictures were taken in an open space where there was no water. This was meant to signify something that is missing and yet needed for our survival.
See also Colorism in African Society