Rotterdam Photo

Geert Broertjes & Lotte Bronsgeest

“Outside room 8”

 

March 2019. Geert had been suffering from abdominal pain for a while and it was getting worse. He had a rectal bleeding on the toilet and lost two liters of blood. After a few days of research at the hospital, the doctor told Geert the bad news. He had a tumor in his colon. He was told that it could not be cured, while the cancer had already reached his lymph nodes, liver and lungs. After a second and third opinion in different hospitals the image had drastically adjusted. “It was all very strange and confusing, but after a few intense weeks the oncologists contended that I could survive.” The first surgery followed in April, when half of his colon was removed. Then he underwent three chemotherapy treatments, in a second operation, pieces from his liver and gallbladder had been removed. 

Geert’s cancer is genetically determined. His father carried the Lynch syndrome and passed away in November in the same year his son was treated for the colon cancer.

When Geert was first diagnosed with cancer, Lotte asked if she could make a portrait photograph of him, “pure, without the presence of poisonous medicine in his body”. That turned out to be the start of project ‘K’, in which they together chose analogue photography to represent the three most common cancer treatments: chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. The duo subjected film roll, negatives and prints to the same procedures that Geert’s body was enduring. Directly after the chemo, Geert’s urine was used to soak the film rolls. 4×5 Inch film was irradiated at Amsterdam’s AMC hospital. The size of the illuminated square in the middle of the film represents Geert’s tumor of that same size. Partially burned negatives have become stand-ins for surgical procedures, the violence of both illness and ‘recovery’ on the body – and eventually on the mind as well.


Website: lottebronsgeest.com 

Website: geertbroertjes.com  

Rotterdam Photo

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