An animated short film by artist Jordan Baseman, A Different Kind of Different, explores the psychological impact of breast cancer. Reflecting on the initial ordeal of loss, the film charts trauma, consent, agency and ownership of bodies, revealing a journey to acceptance via the liberation of mastectomy tattoos.
Co-written by Baseman and Sally O’Reilly, the film features a cast of hand-drawn characters, and follows protagonist Alicia. With both candour and humour, Alicia reflects on life after breast cancer, from the hatred she feels towards her body, to her declaration that her post-chemo hair means she resembles Justin Timberlake. She recounts the jolt of medical menopause, her rejection of breast reconstruction, followed by her encounter with mastectomy tattoos, and finally the realisation of her own joyful inking.
Dr Becky Coles-Gale, a clinical health psychologist who works across major trauma and critical care services for the NHS in East Sussex, played a significant role in the development of the script, which is based on interviews with people who have chosen to wear mastectomy tattoos. Other contributors include tattooist Mary Jane Haake; Professor Margot Mifflin, City University of New York; Dr John Troyer, University of Bath; and Dr Gemma Angel, University of Leicester. The original score is by award-winning sound artist and composer, DIE HEXEN.
A Different Kind of Different launches in January with three free online events on 14, 21 and 28 January, to be followed by a UK tour later in 2021. Artists, writers, scientists and breast cancer specialists are invited to respond to aspects of the film that relate to their own practice or fields of interest. Further information is available at kindofdifferent.org.
Image: still from A Different Kind of Different. “My mum and I went through menopause together… we were like a fucked-up scary double act.” © Jordan Baseman. Courtesy of Matt’s Gallery