A couple of days back, Yetunde Ayeni Babaeko and a group of female photographers known as X Perspective Initiative set up an exhibition about cancer awareness. Cancer patients were photographed and their photographs were exhibited to the world.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with her about the initiative and the purpose of the exhibition.
I had the urge to empower women. I know it will be good for some women to come together, so we can teach them about photography. Then, we will exhibit their works to the world. I believe most of them don’t have the power to do that on their own, but as a group, it will be quite easy.
So, what is X Perspective Initiative all about?
It is all about empowering women in photography. It is about networking. We want to use our camera to empower women. We know we may not have money to stage exhibition as an individual but coming together as a group will help.
What inspired the exhibition that started on March 9, 2014?
I met a lady sometime back, Wana Udobana. She had a project on cancer; so I told her about my project and probably we could work together. She later connected me to the initiator of the project, Dr. Salako. That is how we decided to take pictures of breast cancer survivors and exhibited their pictures.
How was the experience while taking the photographs?
It was cool, we got into it step by step. Most of the members of the initiative had not done such a job before. At first, the cancer patients weren’t supportive, we had to build a good relationship based on trust with them. And gradually, they accepted us and the project started.
People were really emotional. The exhibition itself was also emotional. While the project was on, one of the cancer patients even died. It was really emotional going through that stage. The images made people know a lot of things about breast cancer. As normal people, we just know a fraction of what those people go through. Some people were shocked at what they saw in the picture. Seeing a graphic picture of what it means to have cancer.
What are the lessons learnt from the experience?
Breast cancer is not the end of everything. Early detection is key. Most people don’t get to know on time, some because of stigmatization, some don’t believe they can have it at all. Some even run to their village after detection either to meet a herbalist or something.
The exhibition was for people to open up. The more people open up, the more people will help them. Some women are scared of the money they will spend because money is life now. Money means life to a lot of people.
What will you do with the photographs?
They will create awareness. We hope the pictures can travel, we believe other organizations will see them and show interest and we will get invitation to exhibit them in other places. We are also selling the pictures as well. We also have post cards of N500, N1,000, we sell to make money. The money goes to the welfare of cancer patients.
How many members do you have?
We are just a small group. Some members only come when we have special projects. For the exhibition, we were six. The exhibition will end by March 29, 2014. We are planning to have a close door event. We are inviting doctors and specialists to talk about breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors will also give speeches.