Carmen Sayago’s photos of women living with multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome is the second runner up in the series category of the 2019 Focus on the Story Awards. She is a documentary photographer based in Spain. Her work mainly focused in social issues. Since 2016, she has worked on a project related to pollution and climate change. Her images have been published in many international publications, including Days Japan, Il Reportage, XL Semanal, El Mundo and Vanity Fair. Her work has been honored with Finalist Luis Valtueña Awards(2018); winner editorial environmental ND Awards (2018); Photon Scholarship (2018); finalist La Máquina Scholarship (2018), finalist Signoeditores Numen Awards (2018); Honorable Mention International Photography Awards (2017); selected The Biennial Grant Ma (2017); honorable mention Monovisions Awards (2017).
From her submission: “We live in a highly industrialized society in which we coexist daily with an environment saturated with chemical substances. We eat them, we breathe them, we touch them … For the majority of the population, many of these elements are harmless, but not for everyone. Dizziness, vomiting, fatigue or loss of consciousness are some of the symptoms that people with multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (MCS) have to deal with on a daily basis. Known colloquially as environmental disease, this pathology has its origin in the adverse reaction to various chemical compounds present in our food and environment. Those affected by this syndrome live ignored by institutions, by doctors and, even, misunderstood by an environment unable to recognize an imperceptible condition, which can not see or touch, nor feel, deriving patients to a social condemnation in which even questions their psychological integrity. Birds of pollution collects the life of a series of women affected by MCS who need seclusion to survive, since they must obey a strict protocol that avoids contact with these chemicals or with people who have been exposed to these substances. The purpose is to keep away from home a threat that keeps their lives under a constant invisible danger, in a claustrophobic routine full of shadows. The home becomes an isolation chamber, perspective is lost and the relationship with an outside world is becoming unreal.”
All images © Carmen Sayago. You can see more of her work on her website.