The emergence of the mental institution and the early development of photography coincide around mid-nineteenth century. Psychiatrists and photographers quickly become interested in each other’s world. Until well into the twentieth century patients are photographed as a form of inventory, an attempt to document the illness rather than the ill. In the 1960’s the relationship changes: photographers start to use their pictures to denounce the abuses in psychiatry. The mental hospital as an institution is no longer self-evident. The fascination with photography still plays an important role in psychiatry. But the stakes have changed: the patient himself starts to work with the medium and gives an insight into his own world.

photo © Michiel Hendryckx photo © Michiel Hendryckx
photo © Tim Dirven photo © Tim Dirven
photo © Teun Voeten photo © Teun Voeten