SURVIVAL OF 1 IN 9
sure | viva revival | arrival
sure – positive, certain
revival – renewal, recovery, resurgence
arrival – appearance, presence, homecoming
“In this new body of work, my working method has changed in two ways. When photographing myself I have exchanged a manual camera, and working in black and white, with a digital SLR camera photographing in colour and learning the computer skills associated with it. The other difference is when photographing women who have survived breast cancer I have used a medium format camera. This has changed my approach because I use a tripod, which slows down my movement, and so my own presence is obvious, and the photographs have become more staged.
Richard Avedon says, “…portraits are performance, and like any performance, in the balance of its effects it is good or bad, not natural or unnatural. The point is that you can’t get at the thing itself, the real nature of the sitter, by stripping away the surface. The surface is all you’ve got. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface. All that you can do is to manipulate that surface – gesture, costume, expression, radically and correctly.” (Richard Avedon Portraits, 2002).
Alicia Quinteros: Mother & Jeweller. Cape Town.
44 years old, diagnosed 15th September 2008. Lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation.
“We’re always working towards ourselves, changing, aging, growing, being born again.” 2009
Today’s photograph from Tracey Derrick‘s body of work, 1 in 9, is a photograph of the plaster cast she made of her chest, post-mastectomy. Through the tender replication of her chest, she somehow manages to both powerfully AND gently obliterate the media’s ‘requirement’ for women to ‘build themselves back together’ into a state of ‘normal femininity’ —- and instead presents us with a portrait of herself simply as she is: pure, unencumbered, real and unutterably and beautifully herself: unique!
Whether we choose reconstruction, to wear breast prostheses or go breast-free, the power of choice lies in our hands: it is our choice, and our choice alone.
If you would like to share your story about your post-mastectomy body
and your new, YOUnique normal,
please pop us an inboxed message on Facebook!
RESOURCES & IDEAS:
ART THERAPY BLOG: Activites & Ideas
EXPRESSIVE ART WORKSHOPS by Shelley Klammer
- We love the idea of art journalling as creative ‘self therapy‘ (click here to read more!) but the website is full of other wonderful ideas – and we recommend signing up for her very helpful and inspiring newsletters too!
“After breast cancer treatment this identity of ‘desirable object’ becomes confused because the ‘traditional’ nude, as an idealized object of male desire, clearly precludes any possibility of illness or ‘imperfection’ and denies the ‘unacceptable’ hidden truths within, for example, the scars, a single breast, lumpy breasts, false breasts; changes that women live with after treatment. Through the media, the ideal woman is ‘put together’ and defined by appearance.
Artist Jo Spence was especially concerned with the breast as an object of desire, as a device for nourishing babies, and finally in her case of breast cancer, as a possession to be placed in the hands of the medical institution. This is exemplified by her photo of her breast, marked with a pen “Property of Jo Spence?” where she appears to question her rights over her own body, using the breast as a metaphor for women’s struggle to become active subjects. Following her *lumpectomy, she documented the appearance of her scarred breast, thereby challenging traditional representations of that subject. In one image she documents the struggle between her everyday appearance (revealing her scars), and the glamorous representation of women – signified by the Hollywood-style sunglasses and the seductive pose and drape of her blouse off her shoulder. (1986:157)
*Lumpectomy is surgery in which only the tumor and some surrounding tissue is removed. It is a form of “breast-preservation” and technically is a partial mastectomy. Jo Spence had a mastectomy later on in her life when her breast cancer returned.” ~ Tracey Derrick
TAKEWAYS RE: SCARS & SCAR MANAGEMENT
TITLE: “Hang on? – come unstuck, detach, unfasten, free. Why reconstruct, whose ideals?” 2009
This particular photography by Tracey Derrick simply refused to fit into our graphic designer’s template – so it was decided the photograph would be most powerfully appreciated shown – purely – on its own.
How do you feel looking at this image?
How does it resonate with your own experience of mastectomy and the decision to opt for either reconstruction, prostheses or go completely breast-free?
Within the South African public health space, the bare minimum of breast cancer treatment options are very often not even managed – so how do our public health survivors navigate their post-mastectomy recovery where even one breast prosthesis costs R700?
Reach For Recovery is “a breast cancer support organisation with a unique focus on breast cancer support and one of the only organisations that provide a patient support service on a national basis. It is built on a simple yet universal principle: that of one woman who has experienced breast cancer herself giving freely of her time and experience to assist and support another woman with breast cancer.
Well-selected and trained volunteers, who each have experienced the breast cancer journey, render an emotional care and practical support programme to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and their families.”
The Ditto Project aims “to help these women who come from very low income groups to feel confident again after the traumatic diagnoses and surgery through our Ditto Project… and aim to assist them with a silicone breast prosthesis.”
For SUPPORT: get in touch with Reach For Recovery by clicking here!
To VOLUNTEER, click here!
To help support The Ditto Project, click here!
“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
READ MORE ABOUT THE WHAT, WHY & SIDE-EFFECTS OF CAF HERE
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!
“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