Hardcover, 10 x 8 inches 288 pages Edition of 1000
place in the
From the personal website of Laurence Philomène, I found out that Puberty is an ongoing autobiographical project which follows the “process of caring for oneself as a non-binary transgender person.” Through a vibrant journey of four seasons of 2020, the book follows a visual narrative of mental and physical changes undergone by a body in the gender transition process. Philomène grants the viewer insights into the intimate and private parts of their life, friends, and pets. Puberty is courageous and it doesn’t shy away from what seems nowadays like a brave act of being true to oneself. Embodying queerness is a subjective experience, yet Philomène’s approach at the same time contributes to a collective queer archive.
Spring flowers & night sky
feels so healing
A calm night, even though
I remember everything
feeling very hectic
Colours raging in their vibrancy from neons to greens and blues to finally greys and whites obtain a role of characters who accompany the protagonist in her every move. As she says herself, she implements them as a form of therapy which is reflected in its healing impact on the reader, too. Pictures are shot usually under a day light out- or indoor setting. Shot using a digital camera gives the viewer a direct insight into the everyday moments of Philomène. Her body figures naked or dressed, captured from various angles and in diverse poses openly communicate body positivity. Philomène’s hand-written text on or near the images is an additional layer to the composition of the image and functions as a poetic voice-over to the visuals. She keeps the form similar to a physical journal leaving in some spots the crossed words. Puberty’s visual diary is not only set in Canada where Philomène lives but also changes locations as she goes on a vacation to Mexico or to give a talk at a university in Paris and then to complete an artist residency in Iceland. Everywhere she goes colours are a fundamental part of the storytelling which is a beautiful twist judging by the fact that the events were taken during the pandemic.
Puberty is a personal story, but because of the belief and hope it gives, it unites the readers in their differences no matter where they are in the world. By embracing all the different feelings – myriad of emotions, both the highs and lows – Laurence Philomène creates a space of belonging when flipping the pages of her book.
Puberty has its own temporality as if time was constructed from precarious moments which unfolded during the uncertainties of 2020. It is honest in its storytelling which encourages the reader to learn about other ways of being which exist beyond the safely secured heteronormative form in the society.
You can purchase ‘Puberty’ here.