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Chalton Gallery, 2019


Lorna Allan

'Tones for Voice and Colour' is a two channel video installation using translation to examine the legacies of empire on race, domestic architecture and labour between Brazil and the UK. Highlighting an absence of words in English to translate the vast vocabulary in Brazil describing skin tones linked to the miscegenation of its amerindian, african and european populations, the video points at the linguistic construct of our bodies and the fictive logic of race as biological fact. 


Mapping the architectural legacy of slavery in the Brazilian middle class home still present today in the guise of the ‘banheiro de serviço’, or the maid’s toilet, the protagonist negotiates their own role in maintaining labour relations laid out along racial lines within the home, and how to reconcile the realities of two cultures which have been shaped by being at different ends of the colonial project.


In the gallery intensely saturated orange hues bring in the heat of the tropics and hanging colour planes re-orchestrate the movement of bodies through the gallery. At the end of this orange enclosure the video is viewed on two screens facing one another, so that they cannot be seen at the same time. The custom seating is based on basic, historic latrine designs, coercing the viewer into an awareness of their body as they watch the film. 


In the windows two sculptural tableaux, ‘Diary I & II’ are on display. The tableaux portray the body as a linguistic site, and speculate on excretion as a means for the body to transcribe itself on its own terms.


Additional screening at:

The Rough Cut + Elinor Morgan at Tyneside cinema

Click on images to enlarge and view details including title, medium and date. An excerpt of the film is available below, please email if you wish to view the full video.

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