The Danes by Rollence Patugan
Where are you from? In general, this would be a simple question to answer, but to a specific population in Denmark it can be confusing and at times alienating.
Starting around the mid-1960’s, the Danish government began the adoption process of orphans from Korea initially as a result from the Korean War. Culturally and socially, these infants grew up 100% Danish, however, their appearance goes against the grain of the homogenous population of Denmark.
In the United States, it is possible for Korean-Americans supported by biological parents or communities to maintain their ethnic culture while identifying as being American simultaneously, however, the adopted “Korean-Danes” solely have their Danish culture. If this identity is stripped from them via racism, xenophobia, or ignorance, then what is left for these Danes to identify with? Do they feel like outsiders in their own country? How do they navigate within their own society and culture that may treat them as less Danish?
In this series, “The Danes” attempt to open up these discussions of nationalism and cultural identity through the stories of these Korean adoptees.
About Rollence Patugan
Rollence Patugan is a commercial and fine-art photographer as well as an educator based in Los Angeles, California, USA. He has been a recurring artist exhibitor for Month of Photography Los Angeles, Art Share L.A., City of Brea Art Gallery, and Smashbox Studios.
Rollence left the corporate world, or rather, it left him in 2001 when the tech bubble burst. He decided to pursue his dream of becoming an actor, and at some point during this journey, he discovered another passion in his life when he stepped behind the lens bringing his knowledge of story-telling and life’s experiences. Ever since then, Rollence has been in the pursuit of capturing those fleeting moments with people.
Having come from Baldwin Park, California a small but diverse town in the San Gabriel Valley within Los Angeles County, Rollence wants his work to serve the underrepresented people. “I grew up in the 1970-80’s without seeing ‘me’ or my Latino friends on popular media such as television or print. Being an Asian-American specifically of Filipino and Chinese descent and not being seen in government, sports, entertainment, or the arts felt like we didn’t exist.” In his work, he strives to reflect the ethnic diversity that has always been a part of his experiences and reality. He starts with simple ideas and builds layers incrementally from there. “We are all different, and I love photographing that.”
Rollence uses traditional medium format color film to capture the photographs for this ongoing series.