I am a Filipino American photographer based in Brooklyn, New York City and a new member of Indigenous Photograph. I also run an award winning commercial studio with my wife, Sarah, and our two Siamese-Maine Coon cats, Miko and Oliver.
We continue to photograph for institutions like Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Commissioned by Creative Director, Ron Jaramillo, we've had the honor of photographing two albums with musician Yo-Yo Ma for Sony Music Masterworks.
My personal documentary work reflects how particular historical moments alter, disrupt, and shape one’s society and sense of self.
Initially exhibited by Curator Patrick Flores at the Jorge B. Vargas Museum in 2012, my series "Urban Legend" was also selected by Curator Clara Kim (Tate Modern, MOCA) for the Gwangju Biennale in 2018.
I am a recent 2022 recipient of Duke University's Archive of Documentary Arts Collections Award and a corresponding exhibition of my work will be shown from October 2022 - April 2023 at the Rubinstein Library Photography Gallery.
For an extended Artist Statement & CV, please scroll down.
My photographic practice looks at the effects of American assimilation on ethnic culture and identity. Having indigenous Filipino heritage (Casiguran Dumagat) while being born and educated in the United States, my perspective reflects both my inculcation into and resistance against various colonial systems of power.
This uneasy relationship roots itself in my very surname. In Filipino, 'sumulong' means "to move and progress forward". The name allegedly originated from the family’s act of moving forward in welcoming the arrival of the Franciscan Friars, the first Catholic missionaries in the Aurora province of Luzon, the Philippines.
I shoot with digital camera printing and processing the files alternatively to push back on the inbuilt importance of fidelity and verisimilitude in Western documentary practices. I want my work to be as idiosyncratic and steadfastly on their own as the histories and communities that they depict without making concessions for spectacularity or legibility.
Despite the United States existing as both my place of residence and birthplace, my work for over a decade had focused exclusively on my relationship to the Philippines.
I am currently exploring marginalized, emerging ethnic groups within the nebulous Asian American Pacific Islander category. I look at daily life since I view mundanity as the most complex marker in recording a community’s transition into American society.
In many instances, the community’s diaspora traces itself to traumatic historical events that force them to migrate and resettle to an area in the United States that is outside of the mainstream.
I choose an appropriate process and paper that simultaneously obscures a documentary scene and visualizes the improvisational act of assimilation.
With each successive story, I attempt to shift the ways in which I weave the concept of locality and diasporic experience visually. My focus on altering the RAW file and the photographic print through analog techniques relays a reality that hasn’t been accounted for.
(b.1987, Secaucus, NJ, USA)
Based in Brooklyn, NY, USA
The Brooklyn Museum Library
Duke University - Archive of Documentary Arts
The Museum of Modern Art Library (MoMA)
University of Arkansas - Special Collections
SITE SPECIFIC COMMISSIONS
A Proposed State - Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center | Curator: Adriel Luis | Akron, Ohio (Forthcoming 2023)
BYOPaper! - Rencontres d’Arles | Arles, France (2017)
No Longer Can I Stay; It’s True | Curator: Caitlin Margaret Kelly | Rubenstein Library Photography Gallery - Duke University, North Carolina (Forthcoming 2022)
Men of Change | Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, United States (2019 - 2023)
Promenades photographiques de Vendôme: Extrême-Orient | Curator: Stephane Damant | Manège Rochambeau, Vendôme, France (2020)
Not Visual Noise | Curator: Angel Velasco Shaw | Ateneo Art Gallery, Manila, Philippines (2019)
Gwangju Biennale | Curator: Clara Kim, Tate Modern | Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall and Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, South Korea (2018)
En Foco New Works Photography Fellowship | Curator: Leenda Bonilla | Gulf and Western Gallery, Manhattan, New York (2016)
Head On Photo Festival | aMBUSH Gallery: Project Space, Sydney, Australia (2016)
Traces - Contemporary Filipino Photography | Finale Art File, Manila, Philippines (2015)
From the Prison House | Curator: Tiffany Johnson Bidler | Moreau Center for the Arts - St. Mary's College, Indiana (2013)
Urban Legend | Curator: Patrick Flores | The Jorge B. Vargas Museum & Filipiniana Research Center, Manila, Philippines (2012)
Levee | Smith Gallery, Joe Rosenfield Center, Grinnell College, Iowa (2010)
AWARDS & HONORS
Archive of Documentary Arts Collection Awards | Winner (2022)
Best of American Photography: AP38 | Winner - Chosen (2022)
Best of American Photography: AP37 | Winner - Chosen (2021)
Best of American Photography: AP35 | Winner - Chosen (2019)
World Press Photo Foundation: Joop Swart Masterclass | Nominee (2017, 2019)
The Magenta Foundation: Flash Forward Award | Winner (2019)
Lucie Foundation: Fine Arts Scholarship | Finalist (2018)
En Foco Fellowship | Winner (2016)
Foundation of Contemporary Arts | Grantee (2016)
The Pollination Project | Grantee - Impact Project Grant (2016)
Lucie Foundation: Emerging Artist Award | Finalist (2016)
Sony World Photography Awards | Finalist (2016)
LECTURES & PRESENTATIONS
Imagining Asian Pacific America: Storytelling In Contemporary Literary, Media & Visual Arts | Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (April 2022)
Art Libraries Society of North America - 50th Annual Conference | Chicago, Illinois (April 2022)
Mana Photo x WIP with Simeon Marsalis | Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, New Jersey (2019)
Visiting Author Talk: Simeon Marsalis | Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center, Fashion Institute of Technology, Manhattan, New York (2019)