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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

entry arrow1:14 AM | Camera Boys

It is not easy to curate a photography exhibit. Then again, it is not easy to curate anything at all—the careful selection of available works, the creation of a cohesive storyline and theme, the building up of a presentation that best highlights the artistry on display—but it is more so, I think, with photography. As an art form, its biggest challenge is that it is easily the most widespread and democratic, not really good things: because in a world drowning in a glut of images, selecting that which finally transcends towards art—enough to merit a show—is a difficult high wire act. But curate I did, anyway.

I guess it is easier, however, when the photographs one is curating happen to come from two young artists I know whose raw talents I first took notice of only a few years ago when they were still students at Silliman University. They had an arresting zest to their works that became all the more profound as they further developed their skills. I have always considered these two Silliman’s equivalent to the burning talent of Foundation University’s Hersley-Ven Casero. Of course, the past years have only seen more of an unfolding of their quiet photographic genius—and so finally, under the auspices of the Silliman University Cultural Affairs Committee, both have finally been given their own show. Finally: Urich and Henz—camera boys with that all too rare “eye”—are ready for the unveiling.

This debut exhibition of two of Dumaguete’s best young photographers, Urich Calumpang and Henzonly Alboroto, easily shows the muscle of their training with the Silliman University Camera Club, under the stewardship of founder Greg Morales. For their first photography exhibit, Mr. Calumpang and Mr. Alboroto explore the peculiar shadows and the interesting geometries of life in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. As avid street photographers, I thought these would play up to their strengths—but it was also fiesta season in the city, and what’s best to show a love for Dumaguete than to showcase it in art.

For Mr. Calumpang, who considers himself a minimalist street photographer by heart, the photography of everyday things that most people take for granted interests most his sensibilities as a chronicler with a camera—and for this debut exhibition, he has gone to the streets to capture everyday symmetry and balance, light and shadows, lines and details, hues and the human element, mostly with his iPhone camera. Mr. Calumpang’s fascination for the extraordinary and the symmetrical in the common defines him best as a photographer—and you see that in his shots of architectural detail, of lines, of geometrical shapes. All these from everyday objects and scenes, of course. This appeals to the obsessive compulsive in him.

For Mr. Alboroto, a photographic sensibility shaped by the works of such people as Henri Cartier Bresson, Steve McCurry, Matt Stuart, and Hersley-Ven Casero, has given him a chance to explore the personal through the things that surround him and captures his camera-ready imagination. For him, his photography—even if in the service of street photography or photojournalism—is, most of all, a vessel for self-expression, for mapping human emotions, which is why there is a certain tenderness that pervades all his works, even ones that is starkly photojournalistic.

In both their works, Dumaguete’s heart has been perfectly captured.

Which seems perfect and ironic at the same time because, though both spiritual citizens of the city, both are actually strangers to it. At least in terms of origin. Urich Calumpang, after all, hails from Tanjay, Negros Oriental. He graduated from Silliman University with a degree in management in 2012. Currently a Dumaguete-based freelance events photographer, his works have been published in international, national, and local newspapers and magazines, including Newsweek Asia, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines Star, The Freeman, Dumaguete MetroPost, and The Negros Chronicle. He has given lectures on photojournalism for the Department of Education and several private schools in Dumaguete City, and he is currently the official photographer of the Silliman University Cultural Affairs Committee.

Henzonly Hope Alboroto, on the other hand, hails from Tagbilaran, Bohol. He graduated from Silliman University with a degree in mass communication in 2013. Currently, he works as a network marketer and a freelance graphic designer. He does mainly street photography and photojournalism, and some of his works have been featured in Yahoo! News, Sun.Star Daily, and professional photography blogs.

Catch their exhibition opening on November 29, Friday, at 5:30 PM at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium Foyer Gallery. The exhibit, open to the public, runs until December 17.

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