After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pink October

It's that time of year again when the media wants us to be aware of breast cancer, get checkups, and above all, find a cure. Should we have to be reminded every October to take care of ourselves and others?

So once again I'm contributing my story, Cancer Dancer, which you can read here.

During my first cancer treatment, I visited a multi-media art exhibit in the big beautiful central library where I worked in downtown Los Angeles
  Art.Rage.Us.: Art and Writing of Women With Breast Cancer. The very moving pieces of art and poetry comprising the exhibit were all by women at various stages of their breast cancer treatment, depicting their emotions about their own personal battles with disfigurement, disease and possible death. And in so doing created a call-to-arms for progress in diagnosis, treatment, and attitude.

Out of this traveling exhibition came a beautiful book published by The American Cancer Society, The Breast Cancer Fund, and the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. featuring illustrations from the exhibit along with the artists' biographies and writings.

available at Amazon

Here are two examples of the art, but many of the sculptures, paintings, collages, photos are very graphic images of the physical trauma of the treatments, showing especially the artists' feelings about mastectomy. And so the exhibit and the book are considered controversial.
"Venus Revisted" painting on silk by Carole Bonicelli

"Diagnosis 1" mixed media by Mary Ellen Edwards-McTamaney
A few years earlier, in 1993, the New York Times Magazine published a daring self-portrait cover photo of artist/photographer and former model, Matuschka, with a story on her stunning series, Beauty Out of Damage.

Many people were appalled and offended at the in-their-face photograph, which the NYT titled, You Can't Look Away Anymore.

 But have things changed so much in the almost 20 years since? Last year Facebook banned photos of cancer survivor Sharon Adams who wanted to share her mastectomy scar pictures to make an impact on women in a stronger way than a delicate and subtle pink ribbon.  Supposedly the photos were reinstated after a hue and cry went up on FB, but now there is only a very tiny one of her surgery scars.

It's hard for me to understand how such photos or depictions could be considered lewd, obscene, pornographic, disgusting, macabre, etc. I find them brave and heroic in celebrating the beautiful women within; femininity is more than a body. Not suitable for children? Not suitable for the sensitive? Anyone can get cancer and they have to deal with it. The more aware people (men get breast cancer too) are of the consequences, the more active they will be in prevention. Because of the efforts of women like these, cancer is no longer a dirty word--at least to most people. Being afraid to look at images of the damage cancer brings is simply outrageous.

 Oscar Wilde said one can either make
a masterpiece or be one. Artist
Matuschka has managed to do both.
Linda Vaccariello
Cincinnati Magazine

No comments: