Syjuco’s work references various forms of studio portraiture, including nineteenth- century ethnographic portraiture by travelers, who captured their subjects in “exotic" dress, and the ubiquitous passport photograph, in which the sitter is expected to pose, unsmiling, with their facial features unobstructed. Syjuco simultaneously exposes and thwarts the standards of these sub-genres. The “migrants” in these passport-style photos have completely covered their faces, perhaps aware that exposing their physical identities might be dangerous. This gesture, while potentially protecting those pictured, also serves to render them part of a faceless mass, which is how migrants and refugees are often seen, rather than as individual human beings.
Gallery label from Being: New Photography, 2018