Using self-portraiture within the entwined spaces of photojournalism and fine art, Tracey Derrick replaced her usual manual camera with a digital one to document her journey through breast cancer, capturing it with intense immediacy and richly hued lyricism — calling her body of work, 1 in 9, after the staggering breast cancer statistic:
Breast cancer now affects 1 woman in 9 during her lifetime in Europe. (UK Breast Awareness Campaign). The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer in South African women is 1 in 27 (Parkin, Whelan et al, 2002). If one factored out the low mortality age and the high incidence of HIV in South Africa, the statistic of 1 in 9 would be approximately correct and for this reason the average of 1 in 9 is accepted in South Africa as well.
Derrick says of her creative work prior to 1 in 9: “South Africa is a country with a wealth of cultures, and this is what my work is about. By seeing how we differ in our lifestyles, we can recognise how much we have in common.
I photograph ordinary people: refugees, sex workers, street children, displaced Himbas, farm workers and women in prison. In these portraits of their lives at work and play, they are given a voice, dignity and power. They are testimonies confirming the beauty and hope of individuals and their communities.”
Reflecting on 1 in 9, Derrick explains how she sought to explore and expose the impact that breast cancer has had on the lives, bodies, minds and hearts of 9 women. Positioning herself as the 9th woman, Derrick’s role as an active subject of her very own investigation allowed her to proactively experience and express the struggle women have — as ‘healthy’ and ‘sick’ — within the media which typically casts women as passive objects.
Using hair and breasts as metaphors for the representation of the female body in sickness and health, Derrick instead presents us with a reality which is hard to ignore. Join us every day this month as we unpack this bold artist’s body of evidence!