For artist Constance Thalken, 1.2 cm = 1.2 billion microscopic cells; $285,748.24 in medical expenses; 95 10 mg doses of Prochlorperazine; 5,064 mg of Herceptin; 4,500 centigray protons; 139 medical appointments; and, in a word, cancer.
“1.2 cm =” is a photographic response to the artist’s encounter with breast cancer, an iconic disease of contemporary society, and her effort to understand the illness, its treatment, and its effects on her body.
From January 2010 to February 2011, Thalken underwent treatments that included surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted drug therapy, and hormone therapy. Throughout this time, she collected the bandages that were applied and removed from her body and archived them in Ziploc bags with dates and treatment identifying information.
Later she photographed these “discard” materials on the surface of her bathroom floor. After completing four months of chemotherapy and during the following two months of radiotherapy, Thalken documented her body’s transformation, finding the side effects both fascinating and disconcerting.
These self-portraits acknowledge her fortitude in passing through the most demanding phase of treatments, while bearing the psychological and emotional complexities of an experience that brought former certainties into question.
“1.2 cm =” addresses the paradoxical relationship between the smallness of an invasive tumor (1.2 cm) and complexity of its impact on the body and mind. The work speaks to concerns of mortality, the nature of disease and our unease with it, and the body as both a medical object and a vessel of the human spirit.
Through Feb. 16.
814 Edgewood Avenue