Body Language

How does our present inform our future? With his latest exhibition ‘Uncensored’ at Fotografiska now on in Stockholm, we speak to multidisciplinary artist AdeY about his journey from dance to photography, and beyond.

Our future cannot exist without our present. Everything we do today is part of a larger narrative, our ‘now’ piecing together what uniquely lies ahead of us. AdeY’s story started out as him being a professional dancer. Today, he dances between the world of photography and performance as a multidisciplinary artist. Currently exhibiting at Fotografiska in Stockholm with the show ‘Uncensored’, he invites us into a space that allows us to reflect upon censorship and the relationship we all have to our bodies, nudity and sexuality.

Although growing up surrounded by dance, AdeY didn’t consider it a career until later in life. “Even though I didn’t understand this when I was young, I am very much a visual learner and I was obsessed with movies, both Hollywood and obscure independent films,” he recalls. During his time as a professional dancer, he started observing how the nude body was portrayed in relation to products in commercial photography. “Sex sells and nudity equals sex in the mainstream. I wanted to start a project that could show that the nude body does not always need to be sexualized through imagery.”

And so a new path started to emerge on AdeY’s journey, one on which he was no longer performing in other people’s artwork. “Around the time I started the ‘Uncensored’ project, I felt that people always wanted to paint me into a corner or tell me who I am. I didn’t want to be known as a dancer who likes to take pictures, but a visual artist in my own right. It was time for me to step forward and become the artist I knew I was in my heart.”

Transitioning from one art form to another proved to be an exciting, albeit difficult process: “I was leaving the safety net that I’d built up around myself. I had to trust in myself and the work that I shared in hopes that it would lead me in the direction I wanted it to go.” Despite distancing himself from his past career, he still feels connected to the world of dance.

“Having worked as a professional dancer, the wealth of knowledge I have about the body is critical to the work that I make. I am able to direct people in the way in which I envision, and I’m lucky that many of the people I work with are also working professionally with their bodies. The visual language that I’ve developed is heavily influenced by my movement background, and I would not have made the images that I have created without having had a career as a dancer,” he reflects.

The images in AdeY’s ‘Uncensored’ allow the viewer to see the body anew. “I like to present my work in a humorous way, so it feels approachable, yet leaves the viewer thinking about the deeper themes within the work,” he explains.

Although the exploration of censorship was never the initial intent, it was unavoidable upon posting his work on social media. “I had no idea that you would have to censor a piece of art. I think in some ways presenting ‘Uncensored’ as an exhibition and photo-book cements my thoughts on the subject.”

His process, however, begins by drawing stick figures and sharing it with people who he will collaborate with. “I allow for improvisation during the shoot using my drawings as the starting point. Lots of communication between myself and the collaborators is needed to discover in which direction we go,” he says. He shoots with analogue film: “It enables us to keep the focus on what we’re trying to create instead of constantly looking back at what we’ve just made. It takes some time before we are able to see the images, which gives us a certain amount of objectivity on what we captured.”

As his past informs the present, his present informs his future. That future is less about censorship and more about a new sense of freedom in his photography. “I want to bring movement and joy back into the images. What I’m currently working on is much more focused on movement. My previous images are staged, but the new works are leaning more into my dance background. I’m currently interested in the ‘in between’ and what that looks like.”

On the 3rd of August, AdeY’s exhibition commenced with a captivating live performance by the artist himself, setting the stage for his exhibition. The grand premiere occurred at Fotografiska Museet in Stockholm, where AdeY offered a tantalizing glimpse of what was yet to come through a mesmerizing performance, followed by an artist talk where he delved into the inspiration behind his work of art.

UNCENSORED by AdeY is at Fotografiska Stockholm until 15 October.

Talent: AdeY
Special thanks to Fotografiska
Words by Hanna Magnusson
Launch event photography by Vanessa Tryde

Photo Credits:

1) Breast Friends © AdeY
2) Winter-Is-Coming ©-AdeY
3) Yin Yang © AdeY
4) You To ME © AdeY

5) Fall From Grace © AdeY
6) Horizon © AdeY
7) Ascension © AdeY
8) To No Avail © AdeY
9) Laundry Time © AdeY
10) Battle of The Exes © AdeY
11) Are You Sure © AdeY