Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Vision To Visuals: The SCAR Project
David Jay’s breast cancer survivors project
We live in a world of overwhelming statistics. We experience the most poignant human conditions in the form of numbers and abstractions, and in this most connected era in human history, our experience of reality and truth gets washed over by the onslaught of rhetoric and opinions that isolate us from critical issues that affect us. Disease is a subject that our society has become particularly good at communicating solely in statistical terms. Numbers put us all at ease, isolate the acute human pain associated with the disease and inevitably numb us to the reality that we or someone dear to us may be suddenly afflicted by something so life-threatening. I believe that the frequency at which certain diseases are growing in our society warrants the question of whether it’s good enough that we know that they exist or whether we should become better acquainted with them. By knowing more, we’re truly able to understand the extent of suffering caused to our fellow human beings and extend to them a hand of help, either as money that helps a charity or simply as an act of acknowledgement to fighters and survivors of the disease; we’re there to witness their pain and acknowledge their personal triumphs.
“Breast cancer is not a pink ribbon” is written in bold words outside the Openhouse Gallery on Mulberry Street where The SCAR Project was exhibited. Breast cancer charities have recently received criticism for glamorizing and commercializing breast cancer by limiting its awareness through buzz-worthy actions like mass rallies and pink ribbons. The SCAR Project is in some ways the opposite of what a pink ribbon symbolizes. Instead of isolating the wearer from the human face of the disease, the project brings people uncomfortably close to it. We had the honor of assisting David Jay in transforming his beautiful portraits of breast cancer survivors into enlarged digital C-prints, mounted behind non-glare Plexiglas® at more than four feet tall, at the gallery in October.
Speaking about the project, Jay says, “For these young women, having their portrait taken seems to represent their personal victory over this terrifying disease. It helps them reclaim their femininity, their sexuality, identity and power after having been robbed of such an important part of it. Through these simple pictures, they seem to gain some acceptance of what has happened to them and the strength to move forward with pride.”
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