– – Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals.
*It is said that the Amazon warriors of Dahomey have their right breasts cut off to make themselves more effective archers.
In 1998, Takami had undergone a double mastectomy. She told me that she had been scared when diagnosed with breast cancer, assuming that she would die. Following the chemotherapy, when her hair was falling out, she made a decision to shave her head. When she looked in the mirror, she realized that she was more beautiful than she had ever been. She saw herself reborn, and knew at that moment that she was going to live.
As a photographer, I saw both Takami’s scars and her beauty. I dared to look deeper because she wasn’t afraid to show me. How optimistic and courageous to look inward, to face loss, and become stronger through the experience. The truth is that the landscape of our body is forever changing. Like a topographic map, the lines and shadings reflect our physical and psychological journey through life – through adolescence, childbirth, illness, menopause, and old age.
Takami’s photographs depict a woman who bravely explores the physical and emotional contours of her new form. These portraits can be viewed as a narrative about her life and also as a defining moment of change. Bald, breast-less and scarred, she is as she appears to be — fearless and beautiful, essentially and eternally female.
Breaking Through Tradition, Pierro Gallery, South Orange, NJ (2014) (2 images)
Changed Landscapes, Elsa Mott Ives Gallery, New York, NY (1998)