Laurence Philomène is a non-binary photographer based in Montreal, Canada. The transgender artist visually explores Western understandings of masculinity and femininity, redefining our perception of gender showing how the two can co-exist outside of the binary.
First drawn to photography around the age of 13/14, they became part of the Flickr community in the mid-2000s. It was the early days of connecting online on a social platform and young artists grew very close, encouraging and inspiring one another. “We’d spend hours on end chatting about photography and films. It feels like these are the people I really came of age with.”
Later in their teens, around the time they engaged in a commercial photography college program, Philomène came out as queer and became more interested in photography as a space to explore queer identity. Until now, their main aim with art is to create images that celebrate formerly hidden and marginalized identities.
Over the years, Philomène developed a unique way of creating. Most of their projects have many layers and are ongoing, giving space for the ideas to transform and evolve. “I love having multiple projects going on at once, I have ADHD so that seems to work well for me – I love being able to bounce back and forth between different topics.”
Vulnerability is a reoccurring and important topic in Philomène’s work. In their project Puberty, they made daily self-portraits documenting mundane moments during their transition with HRT. Philomène remembers that even just the thought of talking about their transition publicly was terrifying at first. But soon after, Philomène discovered the liberating feeling of being unapologetically your true self.
Another important theme portrayed in their work is the representation of trans people. In the mid-2010s, as celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox were landing magazine covers, Philomène saw how trans beauty was being framed in a specific way. The media stays focused on the idea of passing and transitioning in a very binary sense rather than showing all the different layers and possibilities that lie beneath.
Overall, it’s about simply humanizing trans lives and showing different facets of queer lives, beyond gender presentation. Therefore, their project Puberty aims not only to show what a trans body looks like but to capture the simple daily moments of self-care that connect all humans.
In 2019, Philomène was a recipient of the Lucie Foundation emerging artist scholarship and the 2020 Women Photograph mentorship program. Their work has been presented in over 40 exhibitions worldwide, including solo exhibits in Toronto, Montreal, Berlin, and Krakow.
Philomène hopes to tap into some of the experiences human beings share and encourage self-reflection.
Header: Ⓒ Laurence Philomene