I've long said that I'll watch just about anything with an apocalyptic/heavy doom premise. I have sat through the crappiest movies just to see stuff get destroyed or to some two-bit directors vision of an abandoned metropolis. As a kid, I loved reading about ancient Egypt and the Titanic. In other words, I'm a #1 giant-foam-finger fan fallen giants and always have been.
This beautiful and fascinating photo essay of abandoned mental asylums on the New York Times has left me completely enthralled.
Aesthetically, the photographs are stunning (side note: look at those gorgeous modern plastic shell chairs - someone needs to rescue those babies!). Loveliness aside, I'm fascinated by how the essay illustrates the literal abandonment of the asylum approach to mental health. The "beauty salon" photo suggests attempts to make asylums more personal, while the collection of "patient toothbrushes" shows that they were anything but. These once very private and personal institutional spaces now lie dormant. The remaining, but decaying fixtures tell us tales about the treatment of mental illness not-so-long-ago; the empty rooms offer a distance - as both viewers and as a culture - from these approaches.
The accompanying text and stories are an interesting a quick read. Summed in a few words:
"Society can be judged as much by what it abandons as by what it builds."
Even more of Christopher Payne's Asylum photos on his webpage: http://www.chrispaynephoto.com/payne.html
More urban decay: