Catharine Clark Gallery announces the opening of Stephanie Syjuco: Dodge + Burn, a survey exhibition of over 20 years of work by the acclaimed cross-disciplinary artist. Syjuco’s exhibition encompasses both the North and South galleries as well as the Media Room. Visitors to this presentation will have the opportunity to engage with several important projects originally commissioned by institutions, such as Dodge and Burn (Visible Storage) (2019) and Double Vision (2021), which are being presented on the West Coast for the first time.

Syjuco’s exhibition also coincides with the release of the artist’s first monograph, Stephanie Syjuco: The Unruly Archive, published by Radius Books in Spring 2024 with artwork and texts by Syjuco, and essays by Astria Suparak, Carmen Winant, Gelare Khoshgozaran, Jason Lazarus, LJ Roberts, Minne Atairu, Pio Abad, Savannah Wood, and Wendy Red Star. Syjuco’s monograph is the second title in a new series of publications focused on work by Asian American artists.

Stephanie Syjuco (b. 1974, Philippines; lives in Oakland, California) works in photography, sculpture, and installation, moving from handmade and craft-inspired mediums to digital editing and archive excavations. Her projects leverage open-source systems, shareware logic, and flows of capital to investigate issues of economies and empire. Recently, she has focused on how photography and image-based processes are implicated in the construction of racialized, exclusionary narratives of American history and citizenship.

Syjuco is frequently invited by museums and special collections to respond to materials held within their archives. Stephanie Syjuco: Dodge + Burn features work conceptualized in response to research conducted at the Smithsonian Institutions, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the Missouri Historical Society, among other venues. Her exhibition reflects the breadth of Syjuco’s investigation into the history of image-making and its relationship to the white gaze.

The focal work in the exhibition is Dodge and Burn (Visible Storage) (2019), a monumental platform-based sculpture first presented at Syjuco’s solo museum exhibition Rogue States at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (also 2019). Conceptualized in dialogue with Syjuco’s platform work Neutral Calibration Studies (Ornament + Crime) (2016) – which debuted in Syjuco’s 2016 solo exhibition of the same name at Catharine Clark Gallery – Dodge and Burn (Visible Storage) collapses images and objects referencing American colonialist expansion in the Philippines during the early 1900s, as well as contemporary racial politics and historical amnesia. Archival research of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair collides with contemporary protest imagery, political references, and textiles.

Chroma key green, traditionally deployed in digital video post-production, is used in intricate handsewn garments, backdrops, and props, including a 19th-century American dress, MAGA hats, tiki torches, and artificial houseplants. The allusion to postproduction and image manipulation is a direct reference to the creation of an American narrative that is itself a problematic construction. Dodge and Burn (Visible Storage) was previously presented in Syjuco’s solo museum exhibitions at the Blaffer Art Museum (The Visible Invisible, 2020) and the MSU Broad Art Museum (Blind Spot, 2023); the gallery exhibition is the first time the work will be presented on the West Coast.

Stephanie Syjuco: Dodge + Burn features a reimagined presentation of Syjuco’s Double Vision, originally commissioned by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in 2021 and currently on view in the exhibition Cowboy at the MCA Denver. In this installation, Syjuco reconstituted the Western landscape as seen in canvases by the 19th-century painters (particularly Charles Russell and Frederic Remington) largely responsible for crafting a perception of the West as a site of open, lustrous expanse. Reflecting on this project, curator Miranda Lash writes:

Syjuco took that context as her starting point and created a vibrant, immersive environment inspired by paintings from the Amon Carter Museum’s collection along with large-scale photographs of bronze sculptures by Frederic Remington from this same era. The photographs include details of the art preparators’ gloves and tools, and collectively speak to the image-making of the institution. The West, Syjuco seems to argue, was invented not only by the artists but also by the structures and systems of the museums that commission, conserve, and collect their work.

The exhibition also includes an excerpt of Syjuco’s 2021 project Shutter/Release, originally realized for the traveling museum exhibition Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration and currently on view in Going Dark: The Contemporary Figure at the Edge of Visibility at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. In this series, Syjuco continued to intervene with the photographic archive generated from late 19th and early 20th-century practices of anthropology in the Philippines that characterized indigenous peoples as racially inferior. Some photographs stem from Bilibid Prison in Manila established by the Spanish colonial government in the late 19thcentury, an institution maintained during the Japanese Occupation (1942 - 1945) which still imprisons more than 25,000 people since 2017.

Curator Matthew Miranda writes that “Syjuco uses the ‘healing brush’ in Photoshop, a function that duplicates the ambient pixels on a point conventionally used for the purposes of ‘retouching’ blemishes and unsightly obstructions. Instead of erasure, she co-opts the photographic tool to remove or 'liberate' the pictured bodies from their carceral and colonial environments. The artist mounts the 'healed' image on aluminum metal producing spectral traces of silhouettes and uninhabited landscapes destabilizing the perceived fixity of history.” Syjuco writes that “my own body, sitting in the archives, becomes both a temporary shield and a marker of defiance, while at the same time acknowledging that the images still remain.”