Female photographer working with light & shadow. The brighter the light the deeper the shadow. Attracted to all the beautiful mysteries in human form.
Enter my world... And hopefully you'll get lost.
"[…] She is not interested in superficial things. Because she goes deep, where there is no place for masks anyway. She searches for the core without a smile. As a photographer, she waits for a face to capture her and reveal its truthfulness .
There was a decision in her life for black and white photography. This made some gaps visible and encounters authentic[…]"
"[…] When her mother, this empathetic and strong-willed woman, came to Wuppertal from the Philippines as a midwife in 1972, the first years were terrible for her, but she established herself and married a strict, disciplined man in her old homeland, who was to become Jeng's father . He followed his wife to Germany in 1981.
She was born on September 6, 1982, followed a year later by her brother Jayson. When Jeng was 13 years old, her parents adopted her orphaned cousin Edna, who became her sister.
For her family, embedded in the local community, Filipino status thinking and sense of values were of great importance. But Jeng sensed her difference when she reached the limits of those values. Make-believe worlds in which one was exposed to norms and codes, which one either conforms to or not. Lying, deceiving, mimicking in order to finally be recognized in the community were not Jeng's way[...]"
Jeng Mercado discovered her passion for photography late in life: only a stroke of fate led her in this direction through certain situations and encounters. In 2018 she began with dark, sometimes provocative, obscene self-portraits for the first time & described them as her own shadow work & the confrontation with her own self. She showed these photos on Instagram and after a short time received shooting requests. Jeng Mercado then found drive and attended a course in photo design with Helge Strauss as her lecturer, who himself had greats like Harry Belafonte and Herbert Grönemeyer in front of his lens.
Her intensive encounter with the Wuppertal artist Maurycy was also part of her first work. Both share the studio "Barrio" (meaning from the Spanish quarter, "[...]where you can gain impressions of what constitutes the essence of human beings. In fact, their soul. Which likes to hide and is sometimes hard to find[...]
Jeng's photographs rarely show smiling faces. "[...] They lead to the dark, the thoughtful, the lost in man.[...] They all fixate with deep gazes. You can let these intense looks have a confrontational effect on you. Because so Jeng: 'Eyes cannot lie'[...]"
In her work, she denounces a patriarchal society based on divisions (discrimination, racism), in which vulnerability, one's own truth and thus one's own authenticity no longer has much room. In her work with women, they are strong, independent and often sexy.
In 2019 her first exhibition "I am mine" took place in the barrio, in which she presented herself as a photographer for the first time. In her work she shows artists like Maurycy or Milton Camilo, musicians like Horst Wegener, dancers like Cagdas Ermis from the Pina Bausch Company, actors like Tyron Ricketts or Funda Rosenland, Instagrammers and bloggers. Since January 2021 she has been working as a freelance photographer.
Text contains excerpts from "Jeng's Philosophy" (2019) by Birgit Liljestrom
Special thanks to my family, friends & everyone who've joined my journey. Much love to you all!
2019 | "I AM MINE" Exhibition, Wuppertal
2020 | "Breakable" Abschluss-Ausstellung Fotodesigner, Köln (cancelled)
2021 "Can I have some candy for my purgatory?" A cooperation with Ava Weis for her project 1221