“Sáshe,” the awful look behind one of the most powerful images about cancer

“Sáshe,” the awful look behind one of the most powerful images about cancer

Shachinka Gutierrez and Sandra Monroy / Karina Lopez.

On June 12, Forbes magazine published its list of “100 Powerful Women of Mexico” and it struck me that within this ranking – in which politicians, athletes, scientists, businesswomen, etc. stand out – photojournalist Sachinka Gutierrez was included.

The same post notes that the photographer is notable because she manages to capture “not only the emotions and the history, but also shed light on the urgency of the vulnerable” and when I tried to understand more about her work, I saw that two years ago her photos shocked me. I wasn’t very clear, but I vividly remembered that photo had caused me a mixture of mixed feelings for the simple fact of being a woman. But what image am I talking about? I’m talking about the photo Sachinka took of Sandra Monroy, an interviewer who decided in 2021 to document her cancer process, but with a “very charming look” of her friend and colleague, Sashinka, as Monroy notes in her autobiography Damn You Cancer.

It is important to stress that “sorority” is a valid term for the institution since 2016 and denotes a “relationship of solidarity between women”; It is derived from the English word for “fraternity,” used by Kate Millet in the 1970s and later used by Mexican academic Marcela Lagarde in Spanish as a “conniving way of working between women,” according to Referred to the EFE Agency.

The photo — where Sandra Monroe was spotted with the bilateral mastectomy that saved her life — appeared on the front page of El Universal in 2021.

Likewise, thanks to this sorora photo and Monroy’s trust in Sáshenka, the photojournalist He won the Ortega y Gasset Award for Best Photography in 2022. For a jury of such a prestigious Spanish award, the photo of a Mexican photojournalist “captures a moment of extreme pain, freshly wounded and still able to convey hope” and whose value lies “in the extraordinary imagery of a photograph of raw intimacy, affecting the Many women around the world.

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To find out more about this unique eye of Sachinka, I called her and she told me that she had not studied photography, but she remembers that one day when her father bought La Jornada, he saw a picture of a Zapatista and thought she wanted to do photography.

Thus, he had to knock on doors in agencies and with his work and dedication he reached the Spanish agency EFE in which he had been working for more than 10 years. Regarding the photo she got in Spain, she noted: “I like that photo so much, I like this job so much, but I think it’s all the work I’ve been building for a long time for more than 10 years” She added that Tully her friend specifically “is a job that Sandra and I thought At first it was a tribute or a way of saying goodbye to her breasts… and we had no idea all that was going to happen.” She stressed that the main message “is that we all arrive on time, we break taboos about the perception we have of our bodies, that we are more than just boobs, and it’s about healing women who aren’t shishas.”

Sashenka, who describes herself as a photographer, but also a “sister, daughter, wife” and who loves “plants and puppies and loves her work with all her being,” admitted that the photo I got her for “was an unplanned moment, it was completely organic.” She said that on the day Sandra was discharged from the hospital, she devoted herself only to listening to her and accompanying her: “Sandra was very ill and that day I decided not to take any pictures… I only devoted myself to listening to her, holding her hand and that’s it.” And so, the next day, Sashenka tells, she arrived early at her friend’s house, took a series of pictures and followed them: “When they discovered her chest, the picture of the award, but there is also a picture that they are watching in a mirror, another where she goes to take a shower, and another where she combs Gina – Sandra’s friend Her hair, everything, everything, everything is so organic, just being there, catching the camera.”

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On the other hand, when presenting her book in a Mexico City cafeteria on June 15, Sandra Monroyo told me that if she could enter that moment, she would say she was born again for many reasons: “From the beginning I was surrounded by women who provided for me, walking with me with love , and there was Sashi, Gena, my mother, but there were also all those whom I do not know. She added that “the magic of that moment is that we are all there, that is, it has my name and it is by ‘Sáshe’, but when I appeared on that front page of El Universal, there were reactions from all over the world: ‘From Venezuela, Chile, Spain , of a girl from France who took the interpreter, a girl from Australia… They told me this picture was the same picture they had with their husband, their sister and their doctors… So at that moment I finished reiterating that it wasn’t about me, it was about everyone.”

A photojournalist who is also part of the documentary, is at risk; – who chronicles the lives of four journalists in countries where their profession is at high risk – admits that entering the Forbes list is a privilege because it is a list of women who “made their mark”, women who admire him and even he has had to be photographed, as is the case with writer Elena Poniatowsca. “The truth is, if I’m being honest, I never saw myself or never thought I’d be in this place someday.”

When asked what this means for their union and for female photojournalists, she points out, “This is something important, because I believe no female photojournalist has ever existed or been considered to exist before. What does this mean? It means they turned to see us… It means she can Open spaces for another comrade.”

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Finally, Sachinka, who is proud of her coverage of the March 8 rallies, of the Okupa movement at the headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission in Mexico City, and even of her portraits of dogs, admits that good photography “is important, but patience also plays a role. We also have to learn to notice, and use All our senses are in the picture, and sometimes it’s not just about seeing but also about hearing, feeling and empathizing with the people in front of us… Photographically, I don’t know, wait a minute sport more than someone’s intimate moment.”

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