This is a weekly series where we feature our incredibly talented Adolescent members and their work! Sign up here to join the Adolescent Membership and be part of the @ family!
This week, we here at Adolescent want to introduce you to our newest Member Crush: Giovanna Leon. Now 23, this photographer and process design student was born and raised in Venezuela but has since relocated to Switzerland. Through portraiture, fashion, and documentary photography, Giovanna explores identity, intersectional feminism, and what minimalism really means. Read below to learn how Giovanna feels about migration, social media, and doing commissioned work!
Adolescent Content: How do your Venezuelan upbringing and current location in Swiss affect your work? Do those two interact with each other at all?
Giovanna Leon: I think being a Venezuelan immigrant in Switzerland has affected the way I approach not just my work, but life in general. Since I left, I feel like I’ve developed a certain sensibility to identity-related issues. Photography has definitely helped me to [endure] being so far from home—it connects me to my roots.
Adolescent: You did a really outstanding series on the post-WWII European presence in Venezuela, photographing and interviewing more than 60 Venezuelan migrants all around the world. What drove you to take on such a massive project of this nature?
Giovanna: First of all, thanks! I felt like when I emigrated, the issues in Venezuela were really unseen. Nobody knew about what was going on. I wanted to do something to change that, to spread awareness from a more human and individual-oriented perspective, so people would [understand] the reasons why my generation had to leave home. [I want] to make people understand migration as a never-ending process that has to be accepted [and not] perceived as something necessarily negative. It’s like an exchange—it goes back and forth.
Adolescent: To what extent do you think one’s location shapes their photography?
Giovanna: I think that’s really unpredictable. Sure, a lot of influence comes from live experiences which are strictly linked to one’s location—but I also think social media has a huge impact on [photography]. I would say there are three big influences in my case: Venezuela, Switzerland, and the internet.
Adolescent: Why were you drawn to documentary photography?
Giovanna: In my home-country, everything changes abruptly and life is very chaotic. To document things with a camera meant to own the time, to be able to make it stop. For me, photography as a whole falls under the documentary category since it’s a reflection of what people think and what society looks like at the very moment the photograph is taken.
Adolescent: What’s it like to do commissioned work?
Giovanna: It’s fun but challenging! You have to accept that you’re offering a service and don’t always get to [do] exactly what you want to do], especially when you don’t have plenty of experience. There’s much more pressure because you have to fulfill your client's expectations.