Esther Haase, "Amazones", 2011, photography
Amazons – Homage to Women of Strength
A project by Uta Melle with photographs by Esther Haase & Jackie Hardt Hamburg, March 2011
stilwerk design gallery presents an exhibition of photography entitled ‘Amazonen’ (Amazons) from 8 April to 7 May. The project by Berlin native Uta Melle (41) is dedicated to a topic often considered a no-go area: nude photographs of vibrant, strong and beautiful women who share the harsh fate of breast cancer.
Over 50,000 women develop breast cancer every year in Germany alone. Diagnosis comes as a shock to many of them, particularly when treatment involves the loss of one or both breasts. Only a few have the courage to refuse reconstructive surgery after mastectomy and accept their bodies as they are. The 20 women portrayed in the exhibition show this courage, throwing themselves into the project and concealing none of their zest for life and their strength, their vulnerability and melancholy. They are Amazons of today, with no need – and no desire – to hide.
The project initiator, Uta Melle (41), received her own diagnosis of breast cancer one and a half years ago – echoing that of her mother, already dying of the disease at the time. Instead of accepting her fate, Uta Melle launched a unique project. Starting with nude photographs of herself before and after her mastectomy operation, she was able to convince many other women to join in, and organized the photo-shoot independently. Uta Melle lives in Berlin with her husband and two daughters.
The title of the exhibition, ‘Amazonen’ (Amazons), is a reference to the myths of the ancient world. In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a matriarchal tribe of warlike women who cut off their right breasts in order to handle bows and spears more freely. The intrepid strength and formidable wildness of these women has always been a popular subject in art.
These modern Amazons have been captured by two photographers. The most recent publication by well-known Hamburg-based fashion and portrait photographer Esther Haase is the illustrated book ‘Rock’n’Old’ (published by Kehrer Verlag). Her work has been exhibited all over the world. Jackie Hardt spent a career in front of the camera before ‘changing sides’. From Berlin, she now specializes in beauty and people photography.
The exhibition is curated by Nadine Barth, who has just opened the successful ‘Traummänner’ (Dream Men) show in Hamburg’s Deichtorhallen gallery.