Marvel Harris wins MACK First Book Award 2021

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Inner Journey is a raw and introspective portrayal of Harris’ experience as an autistic, non-binary, transgender artist, tracing their struggles with mental illness, self-love and gender identity

“Growing up, I did not know I was autistic. Like many teenagers, I just wanted to feel accepted,” writes Marvel Harris, the winner of this year’s MACK First Book Award, in their artist’s statement. “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. As the winner of this year’s award, the work will be published by MACK later this year.

“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.”
Find out more about the shortlist and winners of MACK First Book Award here.

Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.