Body, Event, Life Writing, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

Self-portrait without Breasts in Exeter, 27th November 2012

IMG_1173It was quite a journey by rail over the flood waters on November 27th, but what a wonderful event Andy Brown and Corinna Wagner and many others had organised at Exeter University.

Thanks to all of you for everything you did to make it happen. Special thanks to Dr James Mackay for coming from London to speak so eloquently on the genetics of inherited breast cancer and to Laura Stevens for coming from Paris to set up the exhibition and being there to answer questions about the images.

I was excited to present the work in yet another new context. This time, after I’d read the poems and showed Laura’s photographs digitally, there was not only James Mackay’s expert input, but also Janet Reibstein’s perspective on her family’s breast cancer (about which she has written a compelling memoir – Staying Alive) and Corinna Wagner’s illustrated talk focusing on the changing medical and artistic representations of women’s breasts and of women with breast cancer. The q&a session provided a great opportunity to talk across disciplines and begin to get amongst the many ambiguities of gender aesthetics, identity after mastectomy, the ethics of preventive surgery etc. There is much much more here to be explored…

Later, it was wonderful to see Laura’s photographs printed and exhibited for the first time in the beautiful setting of Exeter University’s new Forum building, where we sipped wine.

Thank you very much indeed to all who came along – some of you travelled for hours and in truly challenging conditions. It was great to see you there and to meet so many of you.

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