Red Devil!

Tracey Derrick - photographer - breast cancer self portraiture: chemo red devil

“My treatment on chemotherapy drugs was called CAF, a common cocktail for breast cancer. The regime combines cyclosphosphamide, doxorubican (andriamycin) and fluorouracil. Adriamycin is one of the most toxic chemotherapy agents available, notorious for its drastic side effects. It is a fluorescent red and when one sees the fluid flowing into one’s veins, nausea begins and a feeling of helplessness takes over – the body produces a violent reaction and fights it.

Nausea becomes a way of life, also vomiting and extreme fatigue.” ~ Tracey Derrick


TAKEAWAY: Listen in to ABC’s Project Manager, Salome Meyer, chat with Kfm about why she’s determined to make her fight against breast cancer count!!
Click here to tune in!


Constructions & Costumery



“Jo Spence (1995:49) ran a short-term project on identity with teenagers. One factor which emerged from the project, was that girls who had a low self-image (i.e. they didn’t match up to the media’s depicted idea of perfection in beauty) rarely took seriously the sessions in which makeup was involved – preferring to turn themselves into vampires, fun figures.

The girls who were traditionally pretty, (and who had a high self-esteem visually) invariably ‘improved’ upon their looks in the sessions (1995:49). Spence shows that during adolescence self-constructed sexual images have already been created and are in the process of being explored.” ~ Tracey Derrick

“Encapsule”: to be enclosed in a capsule, the seed vessel of a plant, a gelatin case for holding a dose of medicine, hollow.


TAKEAWAY: Melissa Etheridge “Run for Life”


Tracey Derrick - photographer - breast cancer - self-portrait: lifeline

“In the series, “So Help Me Hannah”, Wilke claimed that taking the pictures improved the quality of her mother’s life. In gesturing and posing for the camera, Selma Butter (Wilke’s mother), felt alive, felt herself in the process of creation. (1998: 36). This has been my experience in this project when taking photographs of myself.

(Lynne) Lomofsky resonates my feelings when she says: “… it is in the delving, digging, probing, unveiling of the layers and scrutinizing the core that personal power is gained – the power of knowledge to make sense of the seemingly incomprehensible. There is also a healing element in forcing into the open that which society wants kept hidden, because the motive for secrecy is fear. By uncovering the truth, one banishes fear and reclaims the power to ‘be the model of one’s own ideology’ 14(2002:67).” ~ Tracey Derrick

14 Lynne Lomofsky: “Body of Evidence”. Master’s thesis, Michaelis, 2002. She has been living with lymphoma cancer since 1992.

TAKEAWAY: Read about Lynne Lomofsky’s exhibition called

“A Pathological Striptease” HERE!

“Untitled” – by Lynne Lomofsky


The Bare, Naked Truth

Tracey Derrick - photographer - breast cancer - hair-loss and wigs

“As Jo Spence stated in Cultural Sniping, “It is not easy to make your journey through trauma and disease the subject of your own camera. I am literally putting my trauma on the wall. It isn’t an interpretation: it’s the trauma itself or an extension of it.” (1995:139-214).

The photographs are a mediated rendition of the event and through photographing and editing, the photographs have two dimensionshaving the trauma and then photographing it. Consciously working with my trauma through photographs and exploring depictions of the body has helped the trauma to become real and acceptable.

Photographs often imaged Hannah Wilke naked, and as she happened to be accepted by the media ‘norm’ as beautiful, she was constantly accused of narcissism by critics. Yet, it is the critics and the media who had put her looks on a pedestal. She exposed a truth, which is like nudity, uncovering the raw experience, and this is our site of original subjectivity.

What I share with her work ultimately is a celebration of the body as opposed to a commiseration of suffering or abjection. We both seek to empower ourselves and others by laying bare the truths of disease.” ~ Tracey Derrick

“Talisman”: Of Luck, Love & Life

Tracey Derrick - breast cancer photography - self-portraiture

In this image of Tracey Derrick with her two young daughters, she managed to capture so much more than mere words are able to convey… What did your heart bounce back to you when your eyes beheld this trio of warriors?

TAKEAWAY: “How To Tell Your Young Children You Have Breast Cancer”

via LatinaMomTV

Photographs: Reality or Illusion?

advocates for breast cancer_blog_tracey derrick_dressing up.jpg

“BELIAL”: from the Hebrew meaning ‘fallen angel’ and without + usefulness

“In one half of the project, I have photographed myself, changing my role from photographer to subject. I was no longer in a comfortable position behind the camera observing others but was now the subject of my investigation. This has felt like putting myself into a certain relationship with the world that feels like taking some control, even though I do find it uncomfortable.

Sontag* talks about the fact that with the invention of the camera the public have come to accept photographs as vivid witnesses to ‘reality’ and how photographs transform, make the image beautiful, terrible, unbearable – as it is not in real life. Are they thus an illusion? Photographs are evidence not only of what’s out there but of what an individual sees, not just as a record but an evaluation of the world (2003:76).

Growing up, we learn to think of our bodies mainly in terms of how we look (men and women), which is enforced by the media around us, for example, photographs, films, TV, magazines and billboards. These photographs objectify, turn an event or person into something that can be possessed, something viewed as a transparent account of reality.

Yet all these images fail to reflect the tremendous diversity among us. Profitable businesses are set up to convince us that we don’t look good enough and to play on our insecurities and fears of imperfection. The media define ‘looking good’ so narrowly that few of us ever feel that we have made it. Women who do not ‘fit’ the image experience negative judgments, which in subtle ways make it hard for nearly every woman in our society to love and accept herself as she is.

When I was a matric pupil (1979), I was ‘plucked’ from the street by Gavin Sorger, a make-up artist, who worked with fashion photographer Gavin Furlonger at the time. Sorger prepared my hair and made me up ready for a photographic shoot. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking that I looked like a clown. This was the beginning of a three-year relationship with the advertising media world. Practically, it was a job and was separate from the rest of my life. It paid for my university, my flat and my first Beetle – it gave me independence. However, it had at that time and until more recently subtle ramifications in my life…”

*Read more about Susan Sontag’s Illness As Metaphor here!