By: Lauren Ali
ALL IMAGES BY CHRISTOPHER PAYNE/BENRUBI GALLERY
When you think of the word ‘asylum’ or ‘mental hospital,’ some fairly disturbing images come to mind. Asylums are often overshot and easily become cheesy subject manner among photographers, as everyone wants to capture that unsettling, sterile environment.
Documentary photographer, Christopher Payne, dives into his series ‘Asylum’ by approaching the subject with a fresh perspective. With a timeline of six years, travelling across 30 states and visiting 70 abandoned mental hospitals throughout America, Payne compiles a beautifully unnerving set of images.
“From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, more than 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948 they housed over half a million patients,” says Payne. “But over the next 30 years, with the introduction of psychotropic drugs and policy shifts toward community-based care, patient populations declined dramatically, leaving many of these massive buildings neglected and abandoned.”
From the solitary straightjacket hung on a wall to a yellowing cabinet filled with generic toothbrushes; each image allows the viewer to create stories of the patients who once resided there.
To see more of Christopher’s work, check out his website: chrispaynephoto.com
Photo sources: ignant.de