The verb ‘to reclaim’ derives from the Latin ‘reclāmāre’, meaning to cry out against, to protest, to object, to appeal. In the 12th-century its meaning was extended in the Old French to mean ‘to call upon, to invoke, to claim, to seduce... From the early 14th-century through to the 15th it was used in falconry to describe the calling back of a hawk to the glove, and from here, its meaning expanded again to include ‘to tame’, ‘to make willing’, ‘to control’. Its meaning, accrued through centuries of usage, concerns power. It is as central to the feminist vocabulary as the word ‘patriarchy’. How to reclaim a body; how, as Anne Boyer described it, ‘to weaponise your dying cells against what you hate and what hates you’; how to cope with an imposition of gender which can be brutal? (As queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick wrote at her diagnosis of breast cancer, “Shit, now I guess I really must be a woman.”); how to be a woman, how to perform femininity – should that be your desire – in an altered state, all over again?
These are some of the matters of intent that invited guests Mania Akbari, Gemma Angel, Anees Chagpar and John Walter explored in an event moderated by Blackshaw which accompanied a screening of Jordan Baseman's short animated film A Different Kind of Different, which charts the psychological impact of breast cancer. The film was co-produced by Nerve Centre, Derry and Matt’s Gallery, London, with executive production from Jacqui Davies.