If anybody can photograph skin dancing with light, it is AdeY. With a background in performance, choreography, and contemporary dance, AdeY’s photography studies the human experience through balance and strength. In de-sexualized nudes, AdeY captures moments of vulnerability, loneliness, strength, social oppression, isolation, depression, and anything that means to be human. Like his choreographic work, his pictures are about embracing human nature while challenging social norms and fighting social inequalities.
You are a choreographer and a contemporary dancer, and it is clear that this gives you a unique perspective regarding space and human motion in your photography. But do you ever feel that the camera and photography also influence your sense of choreography? What is the interaction between these two aspects of you?
When I first started my photographic project, it was very much my background as a movement artist that directed the way I used the camera and bodies in space, but as my series has grown, they have begun to inform each other. In turn, I now do performance works that are very much from my point of view as a photographer with my latest work Chromatics directly using photographic light through analog slide projectors to shape the viewers’ shifting perspective frame by frame. I believe, over the past few years, I’ve slowly found a way to become a multidisciplinary visual artist working with a single voice and focus throughout.
You always choose to portray bodies stripped of clothes. How do you think that creates identity in a way clothing can’t?
I knew from the outset that I wanted to create images that pushed away from the mainstream idea of what bodies in imagery have been. I was alarmed at how nudity was being pushed through commercial photography and wanted to make a standpoint about how images featuring a naked body don’t necessarily have to be sexualized. This was the basis of my project and also a challenge to show the identity of a body that does not focus on sex or beauty of the individual. I believe it is through this basis that I have found an identity in my work that is not in the genre of “nude photography.”
When you hear the word SKIN, what comes to mind?
Right now, it makes me think of resilience.
What makes you feel well in your skin?
If I am emotionally well, then in general, I feel well in myself, well in my body, well in my life, and well in my skin. Finding an emotional balance and well-being is not always easy, but it is key to finding wellness within yourself.
Do you think that human skin has power that goes by unnoticed? How so? Why do you think society feels the need to cover up human skin?
I don’t know about unnoticed power, but it is clear to me that by covering up the body, we cause a lot of the perversion and problems that are systemic within societies around the world! A nude world where skin is commonly seen would be a safer world to live in.
What was the most challenging shoot you ever had, and what difficulties did you encounter?
I live in Scandinavia and shoot all year round, so the biggest challenges I usually encounter are weather-related. When I first started with this project, I did a lot of photoshoots during winter, and the models were running around in near-freezing conditions.
One of my first series was taken down by the beach in freezing conditions. The model got very cold, but I had not realized I too was also freezing, and when my model desperately needed help to get her clothes back on, I was so cold that I was almost unable to help. Although we were both fine in the end (after a shower and hot tea), I learned the hard way to make sure that I am always well prepared to not only look after those who are modeling but also after myself.
What do you feel the role of art is in a sociopolitical context?
Our job as artists is to create work that challenges the status quo to highlight not only the great things in the world but to look deeper at what divides us and where progress can be made.
Art is a form of protest!
How do you feel you, personally, are battling against inequalities and injustice through art? And how did you start getting more focused on this? Was there a specific moment, or was it gradual?
As I mentioned, my work is a standpoint against commercial photography. As the project grew, I started to focus more on gender diversity and the inequalities I see. I am an activist through the works that I create.
What would be your ultimate dream project to work on?
My dream project would be to make a feature film. I’m currently trying to make that dream a reality as I have recently made a pilot film in collaboration with my close friend, Ira Mandela Siobhan, that I’m hopeful in the future will become a full-length work. This pilot film that we made is only 13 minutes, but it’s politically charged, commenting on the divisiveness within the world right now. I hope to share this short film in the near future.