John Delante: Finding Comfort Under The Sky
Finding Comfort Under The Sky is a conversation between past and present, attempting to reconcile the cultural duality between the Philippines and Canada. My personal history and identity are negotiated through staged portraiture, objects, and scenes to bring a desire to mend past wounds and forge a sense of hybrid identity. I contextualize my environment and objects that I brought from Cebu, Philippines—such as an old passport photo, camisa de chino, and rosary—to question the ideas that surround home and belonging.
Could you tell us about any current projects that you are working on?
This project I’ve been working on is a sort of continuation from an archive assignment I did last winter term. It talks about my relationship with home between Cebu, Philippines and Toronto, Canada, finding a sense of balance between two worlds. I think it’s by far the most personal work I’ve made throughout my university years.
Describe your project in its current state and what you’d like its final outcome to be.
It’s almost done. I feel like I have already shot enough images to make a good body of work, and I’d like its final outcome to be an exhibition in a gallery space. Nothing fancy, but I want my work to connect with my fellow first-generation immigrants and a general audience—perhaps we all share similar stories.
How did you reach the conceptualization of your current project?
I took a lot of breaks, for sure, before deciding. I was overwhelmed with other courses and I think taking a break played an important role in reaching this current conceptualization. Of course, I also did my own research and through trial and error I figured out what works for my series.
Are there any artists that have inspired this work? If so, why?
Oscar yi Hou’s paintings come to my mind. His work is autobiographical, and he puts a lot of symbols in his paintings as a sort of layered protection to prevent overexposure of his vulnerabilities. Priya Kambli’s work also helped solidify my understanding about cultural identity projects and its syncretic approaches. Bharat Sikka and Asish Shah’s poetic images helped me discover my own nuances in how I take photos and flesh stories out.
Describe any challenges you have faced and any solutions that you have found to be helpful in the creative process.
Creative block is my biggest challenge, and I still have a bad relationship with it. However, taking breaks to go for long walks and doing things that I find relaxing helps.
Have you had any success in getting your work out into the world? Do you have suggestions for other artists?
The humbling success I attained allowed me to spread my work in the local scene and meet like-minded artists and talented folks, which I am proud of. My suggestion for my fellow artists out there is to be as unique as you are, hone your style, and share it with people. We have secret fans out there.
Born and raised in Cebu, Philippines, John Delante is a photographer currently based in Toronto, Canada who works across documentary and narratives, exploring topics of Filipino identity, masculinity and personhood.