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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vision To Visuals: The SCAR Project

David Jay’s breast cancer survivors project


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Jay’s portraits are raw in a manner that’s disturbing, but they depict the truth without any bells and whistles that make it seem easy for us to digest. But what he gives us is the truth that we need, that we should see. His stark, bold portraits jolt us; they make us realize the enormous strength that a person as young as 19 must have to go through the surgery and to live from thereon with courage and solidarity with countless other survivors who are as young and ready to start the journey of their lives as another. These portraits communicate what photographers such as Man Ray and Weegee intended in their work—all false lenses removed between the subject and the audience so the photographer becomes simply a vehicle for communicating the bare truth and nothing but.

David Jay created this exhibition as a form of philanthropy by offering all his works to any breast cancer charity that wants to raise money and create awareness of the issue. He dedicates the works to more than 10,000 women under the age of 40 who will be diagnosed with the disease this year alone.

In the process of creating portraits of these strong women, Jay empowers us, the audience, with owning something we’re trained to be far too uncomfortable to own, and an even more powerful gift to the survivors—their portraits are an affirmation of their personal victories over this terrifying disease. These portraits release us into a place of acceptance and peace and strength to fight with and for its victims and survivors so that in that process we’re able to help in a meaningful manner. Photographed as gently and beautifully as the most powerful fashion portraits, Jay’s is the kind of honesty that makes photography truly relevant.

Jay’s determination and three-year perseverance that allowed him to locate and film hundreds of breast cancer survivors are extraordinary. “I struggled shooting The SCAR Project,” he says. “I was torn. Neither art project nor beauty pageant, The SCAR Project is a powerful, beautifully disturbing look into the souls of women confronting a devastating disease. I wanted the pictures to be raw, honest and sincere. Yet I knew why the subjects had come to me; they wanted something beautiful. They had already suffered greatly. And though I desperately wanted to serve them, I knew in my heart that compromising the visual integrity of The SCAR Project for the sake of easily digested beauty would serve no one, certainly not the people I hoped to be impacted by the images: the public at large who remain blissfully unaware of the risk or reality, anesthetized by pink ribbons and fluffy teddy bears.”

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