Leo Adef is an Argentinian visual artist who has found in photography and filmmaking his safe place to express himself and give a voice to all the underrepresented people who have been, one way or another, expelled from our societies due to their decisions to follow their truths and live according to the rules of their hearts, even when the cost has been to be treated as pariahs.
Recently, he published WARP, a photography book that has been the result of four years of exploring, living, learning, and healing alongside other people who, in similar ways he did, have decided to be free by living outside of norms that were not made thinking on the ones who look different.
Keep reading to find out who Leo Adef is and know how WARP is the testimony of a life healing experience.
Leo Adef | Exclusive Interview
VT: What can you tell us about yourself? Who is Leo Adef?
LA: I´m an a visual artist raised in Argentina and based in Barcelona that found out that taking photographs and making films are a useful tool to communicate with other people, to heal, to experiment and to process different emotions and feelings that I have been through during the different stages of my life. I also consider myself a queer person, and I’m in the constant process of learning from my community.
VT: What is photography to you? How was your journey to becoming a photographer?
LA: Taking pictures and directing films are the ways that I have found to express myself and share my ideas, stories, and emotions with other people. Since I was a kid, I´ve always had a camera with me, and in the beginning, it was just to play with.
Later, during my teenage years, I´ve realized that I could use that tool to meet and connect with other people, to explore things that I wouldn’t let myself explore without that element, and I started portraying the things that I was interested in.
Finding safety out of the norm
VT: For those who might not know it yet, would you like to talk about SAFE, this film that has become a part of your life?
LA: Safe was a very moving project I shot last year during quarantine in Berlin. It’s a short documentary about the ballroom scene in Berlin. Making this film motivated me to keep sharing these kinds of stories.
The system in which we are submerged rejects everything that is out of the norm; we need safe spaces to be ourselves, to find more people like us, to share experiences, to be organized against oppression, and to stop being afraid of the judgment of the heteronormative world.
Safe is a 9-minute documentary in which 5 performers, members of the Berlin Ballroom community, share their experiences, ideas, and art. They tell us about gender, identity, and canons of beauty, dance, and much more as we tour the city with them.
The film is available online on my website: leoadef.com/safe.
VT: Let us talk about WARP, your newest released project. What can you tell us about it?
LA: Warp is my first book; it is the materialization of a documentary project in which I have been working from 2018 to 2021.
As a queer person, I am in the constant seeking of my identity, questioning who I think I am, and exploring who I can become. But I realized that this is a process that cannot be done alone. In this search for my identity, I met different people that have taught me, inspired me, and with whom I have shared enriching and unforgettable experiences.
This book captures all these moments and the people that, just by being who they are, have taught me much more than what they are aware of and have inspired me to immortalize them in this publication. I hope that, as it happened to me, this project can inspire people that were feeling like I did before doing it.
Photography as way of healing
VT: You have stated that making WARP has been to you a life-changing experience; why?
LA: All the experiences that are portrayed in Warp changed my life. Before knowing all these people, and having those experiences, I wasn’t the same person; Today, I feel really grateful to them for sharing the last years with me.
VT: Knowing that, so far, it will be only 200 copies available; where and how can people get WARP?
LA: Warp is available on my website: leoadef.com/warp.
VT: Which advice would you give to any person who might be struggling with identity issues?
LA: Find someone you could talk about it; talking is a great way of healing. Nowadays, with the internet, we can find others that are struggling with the same issues.
It’s important to talk, it’s OK to ask for help, and sometimes we feel that there are no options, but we always can be better in time, even if you don’t think you can handle your issues, asking for help can be really useful. Find someone you could talk about it; talking is a great way of healing.
Before we go
Leo Adef is one of the living proofs that finding your passion, being true to yourself, and being constant are ways to find peace and heal the wounds provoked by a society that for ages has been cruel toward those who have been called the misfits, the outsiders.
Will we learn how to love and let others be loved even if we do not look alike?
I hope so; meanwhile, if you are interested, get your copy of WARP and remember what Leo Adef told us: ask for help, there are others like you, and never forget to do what you love because things get better in time when you find being comfortable in your own skin.