Lawrence Sumulong (b. 1987) is a Filipino American photographer and Photo Editor with Jazz at Lincoln Center based in New York City.
In 2015, The Lucie Foundation shortlisted him as an “emerging talent with vision and dynamic ideas that challenge and progress the art form of still photography into work that compels”. In 2016, he was a finalist at the Sony World Photography Awards in the Professional – Conceptual category and awarded an Allard Prize, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant as well as En Foco’s inaugural Foto Legacies Fellowship, one of New York City’s leading clearing houses and supporters of photographers of color. He is nominated for the World Press Photo Foundation’s Joop Swart Masterclass in 2017 by photography scholar Mariko Takeuchi & Head On Photo Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig.
As a Filipino-American, my approach naturally emerges from that attenuated subject position. I am currently creating photographs through the intersection of digital and alternative analogue techniques to report the news while concurrently reconstituting it to allow for a more self-reflexive gaze in which photographer, subject, and audience member are made cognizant of the complex ways in which we all reproduce and consume documentary imagery.
In both “Trapo” and “Sepulcher”, I’m using the polaroid emulsion lifts as a means of literally showing photography’s malleable relationship to verisimilitude or the appearance of truth and reality.
“Trapo” (2016) began as a collection of political posters and scenes that I found in the Philippines. Taking an iconoclastic approach and engaging in the practice of damnatio memoriae, I am presenting images of deterioration as a means of revealing an entrenched feeling of distrust towards a historically corrupt political system.
Understood in the context of the recent 2016 Philippine presidential elections, ‘Trapo’ intends to visually represent the country and its candidates’ cultural amnesia and perverse revisionism in regards to the 12 year violent dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos and the corruption ridden track records of subsequent politicians and presidents.
To that end, I shot the images digitally, processed and printed them with expired Polaroid 600 and SX-70 film, and lifted the emulsions onto recycled, unbleached paper stock made in the Philippines. The title takes its name from the Tagalog word for a torn cleaning rag or a crooked politician.
“Sepulcher” (2017) places the polaroid emulsion lifts in press frames. Each artifact overlays scenes from the very popular TV police drama “Ang Probinsyano” with family pictures of individuals killed in President Duterte’s drug war. As a type of scapular, these objects are meant to be both reverential, meditative, and critical of the public’s enchantment with scripted heroism in the face of real life atrocity.
To view more of Lawrence’s work please visit his website.