Laurence Philomène: Puberty
Laurence Philomène’s new book by Yoffy Press, Puberty, is an ongoing colorful autobiographical self-portrait project that looks at the intimate and vital process of caring for oneself as a non-binary transgender person undergoing hormonal replacement therapy (HRT), and celebrates transition as a space for exploration without a fixed end goal.
Shot over a period of two years, it combines surreal colors and mundane environments to document daily moments and slow, subtle physical changes occurring during Philomene’s transition. Looking at HRT as a process without a fixed end goal, Puberty challenges viewers to consider identity beyond binaries.
Laurence Philomene is a non-binary artist from Montreal who creates colourful photographs informed by their lived experiences as a chronically ill transgender person. Their practice celebrates trans existence and studies identity as a space in constant flux via highly-saturated, cinematic, and vulnerable images.
Gaining an interest in image-making in their teenage years, Laurence has since used photography as space to both experiment with, and document identity as it comes to be expressed through gender. Using photography as a process of mutual [and self] care, their work aims to humanize identities that have been historically marginalized, and act as a love letter to their community.
Laurence is an honouree of The 30 (“PDN 30” – 2020), recipient of the Getty Images Creatives In Quarantine Bursary (2020), the Lucie Foundation emerging artist scholarship (2019), and the 2020 Women Photograph mentorship program. Their work has been presented in numerous exhibitions and publications worldwide, including solo exhibits in Canada, Germany, France, and Poland.
Since signing with production powerhouse Adolescent in 2016, Laurence has created commissioned work in their signature style for Netflix, BEATS, Converse, VSCO, AirBnb, and more. They were named as part of Adweek’s creative 100 list in 2018, presented their work at the 2019 Cannes Lyons festival, and served as a judge for the 2019 Getty Images Creative Bursary.
Since January 2019, I have been documenting the changes testosterone generates in my body and moods through daily photographs. The resulting images are simultaneously staged and candid, created by setting up a tripod in my home as I go about my routines. This is the story of Puberty.
Set in highly-saturated domestic spaces, these photographs look at minute details of transition which are seldom represented and given access to. This body of work currently exists largely online. It has been released as a monograph through Yoﬀy Press and to be presented as multi- media exhibition whenever covid allows a safe return to galleries.
Puberty takes root in the tradition of diaristic autobiographical photography – namely Nan Goldin’s classic Ballad of Sexual Dependency, as well as the works of photographers such as Texas Isaiah, Hobbes Ginsberg, and all my trans siblings reclaiming our narratives.
Having dedicated my practice to documenting non-binary lives over the last 5 years, Puberty allows me to dig deeper into what it means to reclaim autonomy over our stories as marginalized individuals. In addition to this, I work with the hope of providing representation to and solidarity with future generations of queer and trans individuals as they navigate both personal joys and institutional hardship and erasure.
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