In the Forum gallery, What if? by Christine Douglass presents nine films by nine women diagnosed with breast cancer. Each was given a video camera and invited to film whatever was important to them, producing a discrete visual representation of their life. All participants were also invited to contribute to the editing process. The exhibition is designed to facilitate an ethical, intimate encounter with the films, contesting fixed readings of and generalised assumptions about breast cancer.
The work is underpinned by an interdisciplinary study that challenges established ways of researching and presenting experiences of illness. Questioning the validity of representing others, it seeks to privilege and acknowledge those with experience of breast cancer as authoritative knowledge producers. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, affecting one in eight women, and has become a conspicuous disease within society, but a lot of knowledge of the complexities of individual experience goes unseen and unsaid – concealed by homogeneous representational practices.
In the Project Space, the three installations in Nina Mangalanayagam’s exhibition each employ a different mode of inquiry to address the theme of hybridity. The works in Living with Contradictions take an autobiographical view to examine the artist’s own intentions and position when representing herself and others, and the complexities of living with mixed heritage in the post-colonial West. By exploring how the concept of hybridity undermines binary notions of identity, Mangalanayagam’s research investigates ways of subverting visual stereotypes of otherness, with the exhibition offering a space in which to contemplate shifting positions of identities.