John Delante Finding Comfort Under the Sky

Jul 8–Aug 20,  2022
    John Delante, Handkerchief (An Ode to Self-Care), 2021. Courtesy of the artist
John Delante, Handkerchief (An Ode to Self-Care), 2021. Courtesy of the artist

Having moved from the Philippines to Canada at the age of 17, artist John Delante uses photography to navigate the feelings of confusion and alienation he experiences as a first-generation immigrant. Finding Comfort Under the Sky presents a series of photographs in which the artist negotiates the duality of his personal and cultural identities by photographing his new surroundings, as well as the objects brought along from Cebu, Philippines.

By placing these keepsakes in his immediate environment and photographing them, Delante creates a conversation between his past and present worlds, bridging the gap between them. The image Passport-Passport (2021) layers the artist’s passport photographs, an older one laid atop of a more recent one, obscuring it, subtly echoing Mom’s Graduation Day (2021), which depicts his mother holding her own graduation photo in her hand. An heirloom rosary gifted to the artist by his grandparents becomes a reminder of his family values, and a wet blue camisa de chino, traditionally a worker’s garment, pays homage to the fishing tradition that runs through his family. Recontextualizing these objects in the present and finding reflections of himself in his new milieu, Delante expands his idea of home, and cultivates a sense of belonging in a new place.

The Alliance Française Award exhibition presents two exceptional projects selected from work made by fourth-year students in the Creative School’s BFA Photography program, at Toronto Metropolitan University. Shown in relation to one another, Anne-Marie Cloutier’s Teen Spirit and John Delante’s Finding Comfort Under the Sky each address the transitional period of adolescence, from differing but complementary perspectives. One centers the point of view of a mother looking in, using portraiture and still-life photography as means of understanding and relating to her rapidly growing daughters. The other offers the unique, also intimate, perspective of a recently landed immigrant youth, coming of age in an unfamiliar place, looking out at his mother and his new surroundings, and using photography as a way to reconcile his past and present identities.

Curated by Bahar Kamali

Supported by Alliance Française Toronto, presented in partnership with CONTACT

John Delante is a visual artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto. He uses photography as a vehicle to investigate themes of home, belonging, and identity. He conjures a visual syncretic language, primarily informed by his lived experience as a Filipino immigrant living between two places, to produce a new aesthetic possibility. Through his practice, his work provides a novel viewpoint generating conversations about comfort and intimacy. John graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography Studies (Honours).