Winner of the 2021 MACK First Book Award
“Growing up, I did not know I was autistic. Like many teenagers, I just wanted to feel accepted,” writes Marvel Harris, “I tried to fit in by mimicking social interactions and behaviors, but this was damaging and exhausting in the long term. I had sacrificed a lot of my authenticity just trying to survive.”
Struggling with an eating disorder and depression, Harris began making self-portraits. “Photography taught me to manage emotions I was not capable of adequately putting into words,” they explain. Inner Journey is a long-term project that explores Harris’ struggle with mental illness, self-love, and gender identity. Their series of self-portraits presents a raw insight into their physical and emotional transition, through tears, laughter, joy and struggle.
“By sharing my experiences, I hope to contribute to an increased awareness of the issues surrounding gender identity and to participate in a more inclusive and understanding world.”
MARVEL describes the journey of Marvel Harris’ personal battles with mental illness, self-love, acceptance, and gender identity, all told through a searing collection of self-portraits spanning the course of five years. These photographs present a new-found visual language; a tool with which Marvel was able to express those emotions that, on account of his autism, he previously struggled to make sense of. The process of making these portraits allowed him to connect to the world around him at the time he needed it most.
Winner of the MACK First Book Award 2021, MARVEL is an important new voice which contributes to an increased awareness of the issues surrounding gender identity and mental health. In doing so, this deeply personal book demands a more tolerant attitude from society towards transgender people and those who don’t identify as entirely male or female.