1) Mene, what inspired you to create the Impact series of photographs?
My father died of cancer, and this left such pain in my heart. I wanted to create the Impact series to show the impact of pollution/climate change on cancer and the toll it takes on human bodies in a setting of a forest.
2) Mene, you are joining Climate Week New York with your Impact Photography Show via UNESCO – PIRAEUS and ISLANDS programming. Why is it important for your work to explore the link between cancer and climate change/pollution?
Air pollution has been linked with lung cancer which is the most common cancer in Greece.
After losing my father to cancer, I have followed the latest cancer research developments. A new study undertaken by a pair of researchers, one in Hong Kong and one in Birmingham, United Kingdom, suggests that pollution is also associated with increased risk of mortality for several other types of cancer, including breast, liver, and pancreatic cancer.
Pollution might spark defects in DNA repair function, alterations in the body’s immune response, or inflammation that triggers the growth of new blood vessels that allows tumors to spread. And in the case of the digestive organs, pollution could affect gut microbiota and influence the development of cancer.
For cancers of the accessory digestive organs, which include the liver, bile ducts, gall bladder, and pancreas, the mortality risk was 35 percent higher.
For breast cancer, the mortality risk was 80 percent higher.
I wanted to photograph the impact of pollution on cancer patients and the environment.
Related Read: Air Pollution Facts.
3) Tell us about the work and how it came about?
In my Impact Series, I focus on breast and liver cancer survivors to show the damage of pollution on human bodies and nature.
4) What role does art play in raising awareness for these issues?
Art visually brings the issue of climate change to people's attention even when they are trying to escape it.
5) What impact might this work have on your audience?
The images of cancer patients with their operation marks are stark. I cried after taking Tunch Ozelli’s photos as I remembered my own father. I admired the courage of my subjects, who showed their vulnerability to the world
6) Tunch, what inspired you to participate in Mene’s Impact series of photographs?
By posing for Mene for his Impact series of photographs, I wanted to draw attention to the fact that one of the global costs of our abuse of the environment/climate change is the increase in cancer tumors in human and animal bodies.
The good news is that the UK government is starting new ground-breaking cancer vaccine trials with German company BioNTech SE after signing an agreement to provide up to 10,000 patients with precision cancer immunotherapies by 2030.
BioNTech —which previously developed a world-leading COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer – is ensuring more patients can benefit from personalized cancer treatments and has already begun conducting clinical trials in the UK.
Not so much is being done for animals at this time, which is a shame.
7) Where can people reach you?