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Interview with photographer Laurence Philomene

Thursday 29 December 2016

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Words Spindle

Laurence Philomene is a Montreal based photographer whose work often explores gender identity. Her visual style is distinctive, tending to feature bright, candy colours and her work is both visually stunning and intriguing, but also conceptually fascinating. Takes many self-portraits, she’s also known for examining her own identity through her lens. Laurence is the curator of the Coven Collective, a feminist group that supports the work of emerging female and non-binary artists and curated Camp Gallery, a pop-up gallery and shop. She has produced work for Teen Vogue, Frankie Magazine, NEON Magazine and Stay Home Club, among many others, and has exhibited her photography across the world – most recently in Hamburg in October. Next month sees her work featuring in an exhibition from Coven x Polyester Zine in London. Intrigued by both the aesthetics and exploration of identity in Laurence’s work, we asked her to tell us more about what her photography means to her.


What does photography mean to you? 

It’s my main mode of expression, to me it means both documenting my life and creating the life that I want for myself.

What compels you to create?

Obsessive need to document!!! I’ve been this way since I was little, it’s just second nature to me now I guess. It comes in waves, sometimes I won’t want to make anything for a month, but I know that the desire to create will always come back.


How would you describe your work? What is it about?

I would describe my work as colourful but quiet. Simple and impactful. It’s about me, and it’s about feeling calm, and lately more than anything it’s about queer representation.

Tell us about the use of colour in your images. 

I love colour. I go through phases, a lot of people associate me with pastels because almost everything I do is pink but lately I’m also really into orange, yellow, blue, complimentary colour combinations. I love shooting monochromatic images in pretty much any colour. It brings me joy.


You often explore gender identity in your work – tell us about this. 

A lot of the work I do about gender identity is really about me, exploring my own gender. Lately it’s also been more specifically about showcasing the beauty of my friends who are non-binary, as non-binary bodies tend to be under-represented in the current mainstream trans-discourse.

As well as portraiture in general, you take self-portraits. What draws you to the form? 

Once again, self-portraiture for me really is about documentation. I never had the discipline to write in a journal, so growing up I’d just take photos of myself instead. Now a lot of the self-portraiture I do is more about the idea of me than about my physical body, as I often use other people posing as me to document myself.


Tell us about your series ‘Me vs Others.’ What’s it about?

‘Me vs Others’ is both a trompe-l’oeil and a documentation of myself through the bodies of others. I’ve been shooting this series for two years, where I dress my friends and fellow artists in an orange wig and often wearing my clothes – sometimes it’s about documenting how I perceive myself and sometimes it’s about creating an idealised version of myself.


What do you want to say with your work? 

I just want people to feel calm and soothed.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on the second part of my non-binary series, which should be out in January and will be exhibited in Berlin in the spring! Aside from that, I’ve been working on a series of artist interviews with some of my favourite artists, continuing to shoot ‘Me vs Others,’ and co-curating an exhibition that’s coming up on January 7th in London with 50+ international artists.


What’s your dream project? 

Making a film with all my friends! Something where I’d have the budget to paint entire spaces one colour! Something that gives me an excuse to travel some more!


View more you Laurence’s work at: www.laurencephilomene.com.