THIS IS US X GIDA: Adïam Yemane


In honor of International Women's Day, THIS IS US and GIDA Journal have teamed up to celebrate African female photographers through a self-portrait series "Through Her Lens,".

The photo series features a curated selection of self-portraits and introspections, each telling a unique story and reflecting on the individuality, strength, and resilience of the woman behind the lens.


Traveling seems to be an integral part of your life and work. How do your experiences in different cultures and landscapes influence your artistic vision, and how do you ensure authenticity and respect in your portrayal of diverse communities?

I have been travelling since before my earliest memories, so travelling comes naturally to me. I am a traveller before anything else. I feel a sense of pure joy when I am in a new place, even when I am not physically travelling; my mind is often somewhere else. I even create an imaginary world in my head that I travel to. Perhaps they are other dimensions, as the idea of being multidimensional makes sense to me. As a visionary, I am always inspired by these new experiences, and this is a significant part of what influences my work. Respect and authenticity are ingrained in my upbringing; the culture and faith I come from have taught me a lot of discipline, which permeates all aspects of my personal and professional life.


Your work often explores themes of identity and displacement. How do you use photography as a tool to tell stories and share experiences of communities, especially in the context of your heritage as an Ethiopian-Eritrean?

My journey with my identity has been quite unique. I have had, what I would like to think, is an extraordinary upbringing. I have lived in three parts of the world and experienced many cultures. I have called many places my home, carrying with me the lessons learned from each, continuing to grow my perspective and follow my North Star. So, even though I started my life in Ethiopia and Eritrea, I see myself as a multi-layered woman. This way of thinking stemmed from all the research and time I have spent asking myself who I really am.


You work a lot with Self Portraits. Why is self portraiture important to you and what stories do you hope to tell through your series of self portraits? 

My self-portrait work has been a significant part of this exploration. It delves into who I am as a person, how I want to portray myself to the world, and how I want to be seen. I have come to realise that often the answers lie within us because deep down, we have a connection to the divine, which connects us all. Therefore, I am learning about myself, which ultimately means learning about humanity and everything that exists through this exploration. I see photography as a tool for communication, a means to witness what I see, or even further, to reveal what I cannot see and help me communicate when I feel the limitation of language.



Did your interest in self portraits come to you in your attempts to play or work? As an artist, do you draw a line between work and play and how? 

In my self-portraits, I navigate a fine line between work and play. Some projects are meticulously planned and executed, blending enjoyment with labour. The essence of balance is always present. Some projects are carefully planned and outlined, falling into the work bracket but can also be enjoyable, while others I do purely for the purpose of play, yet they end up feeling like work. So, to answer the question in a simpler way, it's always a bit of both. The purpose of why I am creating what I am creating is more important, and sometimes I might not even know why I created something until I have created it. There are times when the answer is just for me and times when I feel the need to share it with others.


What do you love to do when you aren’t behind the lens or plotting your next shoot?

When I'm not behind the camera, I immerse myself in documentaries, literature, and spending time with my community. Tending to my indoor and outdoor plants also brings me joy.I recently completed a course in Specialised Study in Contemporary Art of Africa at the Centre for Languages, Culture, and Communication, enriching my understanding and appreciation of diverse artistic expressions. I also completed a horticultural course at Wolves Lane, where I created self-portraits wearing "This Is Us" for GIDA. I also practice yoga as a way of life. Music accompanies almost everything I do, serving as a way to connect with my higher self. 



What aspect of your love for life comes through in your work?

As a student of love, I rise each day with love, learning to love better, learning to approach everything I do with love. When faced with challenges, I ask myself: could love be the missing piece?


This Is Us. The planet is us. We're like branches of the same tree, deeply rooted in Planet Earth. Our bodies; born from the same soil we're family. 

Our purpose? To nurture every living soul, every blade of grass. We're more than caretakers; we're gardeners, tending to all life that thrives alongside us. Our home, our GIDA, needs more than sustenance; it needs our love and care, our nurturing touch.

We are the gardeners, watering and nourishing every being that calls this planet home. And as we journey, listening to the whispers of our gut, the voice that connects us to the heartbeat of Mother Earth and all her creatures we will find our individual and collective purpose. 

Adïam Yemane is an Ethiopian-Eritrean visual artist and storyteller currently based in London whose work touches on social justice, community development, and the exploration of themes like identity, displacement, and human connection to nature. See more via her website and Instagram.


Adïam wears the Boxy Lounge set in Deep Dark