m a n i c o m i o
While undertaking the initial research for my MA, I read both Heidegger and Husserl, whose influential but fairly complex philosophy assisted me develop a better understanding of my subject for study. My theme was “Home”, a difficult topic which became highly personal and full of different layers of meaning. I slowly began to unpick and unravel the different layers and began a massively involving search for locations and places across Central Europe.
For some, treasured possessions can be mobilised from one space to another and ‘home’ can be quickly re-established in a different time and space.
For others, material possessions have little value.
Familiar sights, sounds and memories permeate the very fabric of existence from birth to death and, confined within a discreet space, cosseted from the elements, such a space (and no other) may well become “Home”.
As I realised how fortunate in life I have been with all the comforts of a secure loving home, I began to think about those souls who were often institutionalised for no greater sin than being less able or perhaps plagued by mental illness. I searched out a number of locations within travelling distance of my home and beyond.
'manicomio' is a series of images taken inside a number of abandoned mental asylums. These eerie desolate and derelict buildings are most often spread across a fair acreage of quiet rural countryside. Built sufficiently out of the way to ease the social conscience, traces of former inhabitants remain both inside and externally in the grounds. Some poor souls remained in locked rooms or wards –‘for their own safety’ while others may have been afforded the luxury of walking out of doors in a secure, permitted area. Many of these people were abandoned and forgotten. These ‘skeletons in the cupboard’ often lived a whole lifetime and died in an asylum which was the only home they had ever really known.
This book is dedicated to those forgotten residents of such institutions and also to those ghosts who remain visible and invisible in the cold interiors and shifting gauzy light.