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Artist Of The Week: Intimacy and Photography with Asafe Pereira

I was scrolling through my IG feed one day, and a friend of mine posted a really cool picture of himself. I tapped the photo to see who had taken the picture because it was THAT amazing. The tag took me to the instagram page of Asafe Pereira, a Brooklyn, NY based photographer. As I scrolled through his Instagram feed, I fell in love with his work. I ended up on his website where I saw that Pereira does a great job at marrying intimacy with photography. As I was sifting through his gallery, I felt as though I was looking at old pictures of my family members. I just had to reach out.. Below, he lets us all into his creative bubble, and allows us to better understand his process.

S: Who are you, and with which art form have you chosen to express yourself?

A: My name is Asafe Pereira and I immigrated from Brazil at the age of 9. I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and received a Bachelors Degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in Supply Chain Management with a concentration in International Business. I currently reside in Brooklyn, NY. 

My medium of choice is 35mm film. Mostly black and white but I also do color. 

S: When I look at your pictures, I get a sense of nostalgia. The B&W images and the grainy look makes me feel like I’m looking at old family photos. How would you describe your shooting/editing style? Is there a reason you shoot majority of your photos in B&W?

A: Most of my work is documentary in nature. I find that it takes being present and willing to seek out moments that would be normally overlooking. In my editing the thing I focus the most on is the composition of the subjects or objects. Symmetry is usually my continuous focus when both shooting and editing. 

What draws me to black and white is its capacity to show tonality. It romanticizes each moment when done correctly. 

S: What’s your thought and or physical process when you’re trying to come up with different projects?

A: My biggest thought process when it comes to shooting is trying to let me of my ego and be present. Instead of going into shooting with an idea of what I want to get I’d rather immerse myself in the moment and see what I can create. 

S: Can you tell me a bit about your “Knoxville” series? What was your inspiration for it?

A: The goal of the series was to provide people with a visual representation of our queer funky community. I had lived in Knoxville for almost 5 years and wanted to express my gratitude. It was a place that fostered and welcomed my artistry without question and allowed me to grow. 

I originally photographed 40 people over the course of a year and had each person written about by a loved on. All together the show involved about 75 community members from drag queens, to queer artists, to new parents, to an electrician, to children, and more. 

S: We recently covered Nashville Pride (WE HAD A BLAST!) lol, and we had some friends out in LA to cover LA Pride, can you tell us about your experience shooting during the Knoxville Pride festival? What do you think is the importance of these kinds of events?

A: Pride, when it involves the whole queer spectrum and not just gay white men, can be a place of solidarity for a community that is otherwise not represented. 

Shooting at Knoxville Pride was an extremely eye-opening experience. Being gay in the south can sometimes feel isolating because of the prejudice our people endure, but the turn out that day was so overwhelming it truly showed me the importance of coming together and being visible.

S: Do you ever draw inspiration from other artists? If yes, do you think that it’s important for other artists to gain inspiration from one another? If no, where do you find your inspiration, and how important to you is it that you’re the one who found it?

A: Yes, Nan Goldin was quintessential in the way I viewed my work. Through the exploration of artists one can begin to understand a story and see why a certain piece of art is meaningful. It’s important to seek out artists you believe resonate with you because your work could only get better if you understand why you want to create and what brought others to do the same. 

S: Was there ever a point where you felt like giving up on your photography? If yes, how did you fight that self-doubt? If no, how have you stayed so confident in your artwork?

A: Moving to New York was extremely overwhelming. I had no idea what to expect and everyone does truly move here to begin a career. It’s easy to get lost and stop creating. I doubted myself for over half a year and pondered whether this was actually something i wanted to continue doing. It made me reevaluate what I do and how I create. Instead of giving up, I decided i needed a break from the tones of black and white and move towards color again. I tried to have more fun with my work instead of just overthinking my creative process and my perception of success in the big Apple.

S: When did you know that photography was your “thing”?

A: I don’t know when I realized photography was “my thing”, but as soon as i started developing my own pictures there was in urgency and need to create that overpowered me. I’d say my first show was really special and gave me confidence that maybe photography was “my thing.”

S: You seem to be fascinated with the human anatomy lol, what is it about the human body that draws you to take the photos that you take?

A: I believe it’s my desire to be closer and closer to people the older I get. Leaving adolescence also means leaving behind many of the superficial relationships you built around you. So, photographing the anatomy of someone I know is my way on clinging on to some of those relationships I know I don’t want to end.

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S: So, the Brekfast team and I have a recipe of our own that we consider goes into Brekfast. That recipe is: 3 oz. of art, 2 tbsp. of free thought and 1 cup of self-doubt. What is the recipe for your creative process?

A: 3 rolls of black and white film, 2 lenses, and 1 close friend.

S: If you could choose ANYWHERE in the world for your photos to be shown, where would you choose for them to go?

A: MoMA. The recognition as a contemporary artist would overwhelming legitimize what I’ve been doing. 

S: I looked at your Archived IG Stories lol, and I see you love reading… What book(s) are you obsessed with at the moment?

A: “The Velvet Rage” is a must read for any gay man along with “Giovanni’s Room.” 

“The Secret History” is a really good crime/thriller I found myself digesting really fast. 

The best book I’ve read this year is probably “The Argonauts” by Maggie Nelson. It’s a super easy read for anyone trying to get into queer theory. 

S: I also saw on your archived IG Stories, DLM? Lol, I’m going to assume that stands for, “Donut Lover Mondays”? lol My friends and I do something similar lol, “Wine Wednesdays” haha

A: Funny enough, Donut Lover Monday comes from the Instagram name of an artist friend of mine @donutloverr (Cait Dura). She bartends one night a week at this dive bar in the Lower East Side and it serves as a starting point for our week for a lot of our friends. Thus, calling it Donut Lover Monday, or DLM for short.

For more on Asafe, check out his website by clicking here.

Cover photo shot by: Noelle Duckette

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