CookiesWe use cookies to make it easier for you to browse our website. If you, as a user, visit our website, it is our understanding that you are granting your consent to the use of cookies. You may obtain more information on cookies and their use hereOK
Dealing with the questions of identity and place, Vancouver-based Filipino photographer Rydel Cerezo uses his camera to capture the complexity of the visual world through intimate and omnipresent themes. Born in Baguio, Philippines, and migrating to Canada at a young age paired Cerezo with a unique outlook on the world. Descending from contrasting cultures, the visual artist uses his work to investigate the spaces between sexuality, religion, and race. Using the camera to reflect on his own identity, he examines the intersectionality of these themes, exploring how his surroundings can be both complicated and congruent all at the same time.

For Cerezo, photography became an outlet for these themes to be dissected. As he began creating, he started to realise how the themes exist in each work, recognising the parallels and contrasts in them. Drawing from his personal experiences as a queer, racialised immigrant while using the intimacy that photography can imitate, the artist inserts himself into narratives and spaces that he would not easily exist in. Navigating the disparate parts of his life and diverging from the need to belong, he uses photography as a method of expression to capture the evolving question of identity in the visual world.

You were originally born in Baguio, the Philippines but moved to Vancouver, Canada at the age of 10. How has living in both these places been reflected in your work? How do these two cultures inform the person and artist you are today?
Coming from two contrasting cultures and growing up as an immigrant surely informs the way I see and move through the world. It forces my perspective to widen and become more resilient and comfortable with change at a much younger age. It’s difficult to decipher which specific parts of each culture informs my practice and my identity. I think I’m more concerned with how they contest or blend together.
Could you tell us about your childhood and the transition from the Philippines to Canada? How did your childhood experiences influence your journey into photography?
Moving at the age of 10 became a benchmark in my life. It immediately marked a new age from 'childhood' to a different stage of my coming of age. I think the difficulties that came with this transition influences my work as I tend to be attracted to unpicking and speaking to questions of personal identity and place.
How did you discover your identity as an artist? How do you use photography as an outlet to explore your own identity and the concept of ‘belonging?’
I think art and specifically art school did not necessarily help in 'discovering' my identity but instead gave me the tools, language and permission to not let my identity be finite and identifiable. Photography became another expression that allowed me to think of my identity as something that is always changing and to reject the need to belong.

“Being an artist and a photographer, especially, puts one in a unique place of power and for a marginalised body this can be a precarious and interesting spot to take up.”
Could you tell us about your creative process? What compels you to create?
I’m heavily inspired by literature and text, whether it be from poetry to critical theory, and from reading. I feel that it sparks my urge to create and also importantly validate and question what I have already made. On the other hand, I’ve recently realised the importance of 'feeling' within the visual world. So currently I’m taking the time to consume crappy Netflix shows to art house films for the pure enjoyment of it.
You once said you use photography “to insert yourself into histories and spaces you would not easily exist in.” How has photography allowed you to insert yourself into these narratives?
The intimacy that photography can quickly forge has provided me with access to relationships and spaces that I would normally have difficulty creating in without it. This can speak to my work, To Be From The Same Tree, that touches on my position and relationship with my partner and his family or on a larger scale thinking about existing within the industry as a queer racialised immigrant.
Being an artist and a photographer, especially, puts one in a unique place of power and for a marginalised body this can be a precarious and interesting spot to take up.
Your work investigates the space between sexuality, religion, and race. How do these themes coincide with one another in your work? How have your perceptions of these themes shifted or evolved as you developed as an artist?
My investments in these themes come from personal experiences and as I began creating work I slowly realised how they existed in each work in myriad ways. As my work continues to progress I am learning the unique ways they parallel, intersect and contradict each other. Through photography I began to realise that as much as I initially thought that these themes were disparate and apart, they are rather deeply complex systems that often are entrenched in one another. Photography became a space in which these fissures between religion, race and sexuality can be mended.

In your 2019 series, Am I a Sea, you look at the concept of identity within the context of religion. What inspired you to create this photo series? Would you mind telling us more about how this project came about and why it holds so much significance?
Am I a Sea came from my reckoning of why I was personally unable to depart from religion even after the violent experiences and histories that came with being indoctrinated under the Catholic Church. I still find myself in this precarious position of rejecting and depending on religion and found a space for myself between the two.
I was interested in speaking to the complexities of being queer and Filipino and the fraught histories that come with those identities. Am I a Sea investigated generational trauma, family relationships, and the experience of the Filipino diaspora.
Your family is at the centre of many of your photographs, could you tell us about the inspiration behind this decision? What is the significance of using your family members as the subjects in your photos?
My family and especially my younger brother were really my first models, so for them to be my subjects in more serious works was a natural transition. My younger brother in Am I a Sea became a stand-in for my past self and allowed the chance for the photographic series to become autobiographical along with my own observations seeing how his selfhood is shaped by my family and the world.
The impulse in photographing my partner’s family, on the other hand, came from my interest in investigating whiteness, and the proximity to it via my partner – I was interested in how I became both an insider and still remained an outsider as well.
One of your more recent exhibitions, Back Of My Hand, includes images taken during the isolation of your family, the only people you could interact with. You have mentioned that this time allowed for a lot of introspection and revaluation of your practice, could you expand on this? What were some of the things you learned about yourself and as an artist?
Slowing down really forced me to confront the insecurities I have as an artist and in that, I found the value in slowing down. The speed of production of work before Covid became noticeably unstable and with that the ideas of immediate success and growth of an artist too.
I am continuing to realise and learn that creating meaningful work requires a lot of time and that we as artists need to allow ourselves that time to serve the work properly.
Are there any other projects and exhibitions you’re currently working on? What do you expect we’ll see from you in the future?
Yes, I currently am an artist-in-residence at the Burrard Arts Foundation in Vancouver, Canada and, with that, an upcoming exhibition in April.

Paige Peacock

ic_eye_openCreated with Sketch.See commentsClose comments
0 resultados