Blind Spot: Stephanie Syjuco
February 4, 2023 – July 23, 2023
Michigan State University Broad Art Museum
547 E Circle Dr
East Lansing, MI
Blind Spot: Stephanie Syjuco is a survey of recent work by Stephanie Syjuco (See-WHO-ko). Through photography, video, sculpture, and installation, Syjuco questions the ways that objects and collections are used by institutions—like museums and archives—to narrate history. By researching and uncovering hidden or erased histories, the artist prompts us to think more deeply about our own blind spots.
Photography has become a central part of Syjuco’s practice in recent years. Although many think of photography as a documentary medium, photographs are often manipulated, edited, and transformed throughout their making. This potential for change makes it a particularly powerful medium for Syjuco to rethink the content of a photograph and its relationship to history. Syjuco’s photographs often present specific objects or a collection of items in new ways: Small pieces of paper are transformed into monumental images; objects are taken apart, captured in sections, and then reassembled into larger compositions; in some instances, they are obscured through a gesture by the artist’s hand. How we read and understand color is also central to Syjuco’s work. Color calibration charts, a tool used by photographers also featured in Syjuco’s work, invite questions around what it means to get the color “right”—who decides? Similarly, the artist’s use of chroma key green (the color used in green screen technology) returns us to questions of truth and fiction in photography.
Through her processes of image-making, Syjuco encourages us to question the way photos are presented as objective records while drawing attention to important social issues and histories embedded in documentation. Syjuco also reveals the way photographs, similar to archives and collections, are constructed by the hand of the photographer, archivist, curator, or collections manager who shapes their representations and historical biases.
Born in Manila, Philippines, in 1974, Syjuco received her MFA from Stanford University and BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been exhibited widely, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Walker Art Center; the 12th Havana Biennial; and the 2015 Asian Art Biennial (Taiwan), among others. A long-time educator, she is an Associate Professor in Sculpture at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Oakland, CA.