Redressing Stereotypical Representations of Women and Ageing: photographic self-portraiture and the performance of lived body experience
Vicky Hodgson’s research questions; is it possible to develop an alternative discourse, using photography, that disrupts the stereotype classifying older women as ugly, repulsive and undesirable? My lived body experience focuses on my diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. I am concerned with making my encounter with the disease and medical intervention conspicuous while also considering ways to visually exhibit and represent the hospital experience. Furthermore, I consider my own experiences, emotions and sensitivity to the disease with that of other women who have also encountered breast cancer.
My photographic self-portrait series Confronting Chemotherapy was made shortly after I had completed 6 months of gruelling chemotherapy treatment and my hair had just started to regrow. In this series, I have explored how hospital power regimes are constructed and impacted on me as a patient together with considering the underlying power of biopolitics and how this influenced my treatment. Furthermore, I have shown how the actual procedure of chemotherapy treatment affected my body, from the bruises I received generated by the insertion of the cannulas, to the sickness caused by the chemotherapy and the many drugs prescribed to overcome the sickness and other very nasty side effects.
This is important work in relation to women and ageing because statistics show that breast cancer is predominantly related to women as they age. Every year in the UK over 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 4 out of 5 breast cancers occur in women over the age of 55 (Breast Cancer Now, 2019). Therefore, it is essential that I tell my story, and the story of other older women, through the discourse of the photographic self-portrait.
Vicky Hodgson’s research is supervised by: Professor Anna Fox (Professor of Photography, University for the Creative Arts) and Professor Estella Tincknell (Professor of Film and Culture, University of the West of England).