Butterflies Chapter 2:
Before the Kosovo war 1998-1999, the Stime psychiatric institute was financed by the Serbian government and inhabited by patients from Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia. After the power change, the new Albanian government financially abandoned the premises leaving the infrastructures in decay and its inhabitants without care. The patients, who are for the most part severe psychotics, are left roaming in the institution’s walls and garden with limited hygienic or medical care. The building’s inside walls and sanitary conditions are dilapidated. The staff is next to invisible, underpaid and undertrained.
The place’s only psychiatrist shows up for a few hours each week to solve administrative problems, seldom meeting patients. The only fix constantly distributed are meals and cigarettes which patients regularly fight each other for.
In such a domain, where time and space have uncertain values, all attempts to link are made without compromises. The mind’s interior (its anxiety, apparitions and ruminations) is telling its ordeal in the open space. The camera was inserted in between the ever vague and fluctuating border separating sanity from insanity.
I call myself a documentary photographer although I sometimes feel uneasy when categorized in this manner. Most photographers who have influenced my work are in a documentary tradition because their focus is on reality, human beings, their bodies, faces, the social or economical conditions they find themselves in. Whether subjectively interpreted or not, I feel that their raw material comes from a a reality that leaves traces. Documentary photography has a certain smell that I like my work to have.
On on a more personal level I sometimes I think of photography as Winnicot’s transitional object: An object you create that fills a void or empties space. An object that has no function and means nothing but is affectively charged. Though this object is useless, it is important in channeling existential traumas and creating an abstraction out of a nerve noisy reality.
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